Art in general is supposed to make you think. Different novels or different works evoke different chords of emotions inside your grey matter, often painting your thoughts in a specific hue. For me, Murakami speaks volumes in loneliness and imagination of a creative mind. Kafka whispers grotesque thoughts with a tinge of sorrow that is planted bone-deep. Nabokov screams of depression and desperation, and then makes beautiful presents out of them. Tagore sings of the myriad kaleidoscope that is the human psyche. Han Kang – she throws all of these feelings away and shows you a mirror. Fictional albeit spectacular in its vividness, you see an image of yourself that is primal. Your ethereal supremacy dies into a shard of solidified blood, and the color is earthen.
You slowly start to realize that you are not yourself anymore. You are but a being that is devoid of any emotions, a pawn of time, waiting for seasons to pass – growing up from a nothingness of a seed into a full fledged forest of dried up emotions. What starts as a pale dream becomes this monstrous manifestation, taking you inside its ravenous mouth, chewing you whole, and throwing out a carcass that is as ugly as it is severe.
This sincere representation of human life shatters all the barriers of fiction and resonates within us. A time when society is breaking apart, a time when human life is an amalgamation of several dystopias, a time where green is just a colour and rainforests are just a sad lullaby, Han Kang’s blunt ‘The Vegetarian’ reads like the grandeur of an epic, and hits you like a memoir of a fallen soul. It is a heartbreaking rendition of the gradual decay of our society, of our art and our conscience, and I am happy that I read it. It changed my perspective, ever so little, about how a writer should drain his/her influence from this world – just like a tree, sucking water and minerals silently from the earth, standing on its head.