Thursday, October 19, 2023

Top ten allegories

Adam Biles is an English writer and translator based in Paris. He is Literary Director at Shakespeare and Company, from where he hosts their weekly podcast. In 2022, he conceived and presented Friends of Shakespeare and Company read Ulysses—an epic, polyphonic celebration of James Joyce’s masterwork. Feeding Time, his first novel, was published by Galley Beggar Press in 2016, and was chosen by The Guardian as a Fiction Pick for 2016 and was a book of the year for The Observer, The Irish Times, The Millions and 3:AM Magazine. It was published by Editions Grasset in France in 2018 to great critical acclaim. His second novel, Beasts of England, was published in September 2023 by Galley Beggar Press, and in 2025 by Editions Grasset. It was selected as a "2023 highlight" by The Guardian.

At the Guardian Biles tagged ten of his favorite "allegories, from classics that defined the form (and our view of the world), to surreal and unsettling parables and contemporary masterpieces." One title on the list:
The Vegetarian by Han Kang

This novel grew out of Kang’s 1997 short story, The Fruit of My Woman, in which the protagonist literally turns into a plant. Much less directly allegorical than its source, The Vegetarian follows a Korean woman, Yeong-hye, who stops eating meat after dreaming of animal slaughter. Her decision leads to an increasing gulf between Yeong-hye and her husband, wider family and society in general. It has been read as a satire of the patriarchal Korean system, but it also functions more universally as a powerful allegory for the ultimate impossibility of human connection.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Vegetarian is among M. S. Coe's eleven titles about women on the brink and Amy Sackville's ten top novels about painters.

--Marshal Zeringue