The Vegetarian begins with the speaker, Cheong, saying, “Before my wife turned vegetarian, I’d always thought of her as unremarkable in every way.” Cheong, an ambitious businessman, then states that he deliberately chose his wife because she was so bland.
But late one night, Yeong-hye wakes from a dream. Cheong finds her in the kitchen in the dark; she does not respond to his words or even his touch. The next day, Yeong-hye, almost in a trancelike state, throws away all the meat and fish from their refrigerator and freezer. She never willingly eats flesh again. Read more about The Vegetarian
Solvitur Ambulande, solved by walking, could be the motto of this novel. And if you, like me, process the world while strolling through town or the woods, you’ll love this book.
Two alternating stories thread through it. In one, it’s the 1980s, and New York City still has a crime problem, so people fear walking at night. Most, that is, except for Lillian Boxfish, an octogenarian advertising maven (retired) and a poet. It’s New Year’s 1985, and a ten-mile, round trip walk from upper Manhattan to the Bowery and the Village is no big deal for her.
The second story first-time novelist Kathleen Rooney weaves tells Lillian’s history in the Big Apple. After moving to New York from D.C. in the roaring twenties, Lillian immediately felt at home. She began living in Manhattan in a sheltered rooming house with strict curfews and rules against male visitors. Lillian and her childhood girlfriend got around these rules by organizing Shakespearean theater pieces to which they invited eligible bachelors. Later, they’d head out on the town with them, and coming back hours after curvew, they’d tip the front desk person, and steal back to their rooms. Read more about Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk