We asked MFA alumni publishing books this spring what they’re reading, and what they'd recommend. Here's Allison LaSorda on The Vegetarian, winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize:
"I’m reading The Vegetarian by Han Kang. It’s a Korean novel, but the prose is so sharp it’s easy to forget it's a translation. The protagonist, Yeong-hye, wakes from a dream (nightmare) and throws away all the meat in her home. The premise is misleadingly simple, but quickly escalates into explorations of violence, guilt, and personal choice. We see Yeong-hye through the lenses of her husband and family members who attack her subversive behaviour in disturbing ways; her own perspective is scattered and abstract. Overnight, Yeong-hye transforms from a woman who is “completely unremarkable in every way” to an unobtrusive zealot—her commitment to vegetarianism remains the only constant in her family and in the novel. What struck me most about Kang’s work is how she calmly confronts the intense disgust, to the point of abuse, spiralling out from characters condemning or refusing to understand another’s motivations. There are, of course, many more layers to this book, but it feels timely and is providing me with a much-needed shock to the system."
Allison's debut poetry collection, Stray, is published by Goose Lane's Icehouse Poetry imprint. Come out and celebrate Stray (as well as Emily Nilson's Otolith) at the Icehouse and Friends Spring Launch on April 25th [The Steady, 7pm, w. guests Phoebe Wang & Emma Healey].