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May 29, 2017 | by  | in Books |
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The Vegetarian — Han Kang

Not feeling bleak enough? Need a good distraction that’s darker than the final weeks of semester? Give The Vegetarian a try! It’s okay kids, before you go shouting out “BUT WHAT ABOUT BACON THOUGH,” please know that I’m not here to convert anyone to a meat-free diet. That being said, once you’re done with this one… you may kind of feel like it.

Winner of the Man Booker International Prize, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian uses the passive, quiet, and dutiful wife Yeong-hye as a vessel to ask questions surrounding life and death, pain, sex, and the taboo of mental illness. Told through three perspectives of those close in Yeong-hye’s life, the three-part novel is blunt and beautiful; subtle and scary. Kang’s prose is simple, seamlessly flowing through the pages. You will find yourself oblivious to the world. The short 183 page novel won’t drain you, but enhance the creation of an impactful aftermath.

Perhaps Yeong-hye is a soul burdened by the modern condition: trapped and isolated throughout her life, always obedient to patriarchal obligations and constantly meeting others’ expectations — of course this can make one grow weary. The Vegetarian tells of her pain in a surreal and spiritual way. Her almost mystical quest for an organic transformation is strange, yet not too distant to relate to; an escape from everything, and yet a true survey of the human psyche.

It is important to warn that the The Vegetarian may trigger some people. Some content throughout can be heavy and hard. Despite this, it is also seriously important in literature to bring to light scenarios that are very rarely mentioned, especially in novels, or at least those that are presented in a way that’s heavily flossy and untrue. But don’t let this dissuade you. The Vegetarian is a beautiful, harrowing, and insightful experience.

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He Tāonga

:   I wanted to write this piece, in order to connect to all tauira within the University, with the hope that we can all remind ourselves that we are a part of an environment which is valuable, no matter our culture, our beliefs or our skin colour. The ultimate purpose of this