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The Butcher's Wife

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  306 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Chen Jiangshui is a pig-butcher in a small coastal Taiwanese town. Stocky, with a paunch and deep-set beady eyes, he resembles a pig himself. His brutality towards his new young wife, Lin Shi, knows no bounds. The more she screams, the more he likes it. She is further isolated by the vicious gossip of her neighbors who condemn her for screaming aloud. As they see it, women ...more
Paperback, 142 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by Peter Owen Publishers (first published 1983)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Akin to piercing a bunch of steely needles, quick, sharp pains pulsated between Lin Shi’s youthful legs, pinching a nerve within me. The excruciating screams resonating the “bleating of ghostly pigs” flooded my ears crashing into the serenity of nest-weaving on a nearby tree, numbness crept within me as I watched the crow gathering the wires from a broken cable. The words from the book kept reassembling blurred images juxtaposing polarized worlds of fact and fiction, exhausting my cognitive skil ...more
Addicted to Books

5 Unforgettable-brutal-heart-breaking- Li Shi stars

Wow I just finished reading the book. One of the best books I have read in a while.

This review is full of spoilers. If you intend to read the book, please do skip my review.

This beautiful gem of a book chronicles sorrowfully the gradual mental deterioration of a woman who was dealt with a harsh hand in life. It explores evasion of female oppression set against the backdrop of the savagery of butchering pigs.

I am tempted to write this review
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
...he simply didn't care.

After a while it stops being fiction and becomes personal with its unintentional narration of a woman's life in Taiwan. In societies that have carefully built, sheltered and nurtured atrocities like marital rape, this story will be a known one. A woman - a daughter, a wife and a mother is put into a cage and is used when her husband's hits his pleasure point or he is bored. It isn't always in the nature of the man to be cruel but it does becomes a nature when cruelty
Jul 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A sparse and captivating tale of domestic abuse and murder set in pre revolutionary China. Lin Shi is an orphan working as a drudge for her uncle. He marries her off to the first match he can find - the local butcher, a brute of a man on the edge of society. Brutalised by her husband and ostracised by neighbours, she sinks lower and lower until she snaps and murders him.

Unforgiving and harsh, this is a good read.
B.R. Sanders
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed

Notes on Diversity:
Diversity is the wrong word here1; this is a Taiwanese book written for a Taiwanese audience populated by Taiwanese people. It's authentic. If you're looking to read outside of Western authors, and you're looking for something particularly dark and excruciatingly feminist, then check this out.

There are no queer characters, but Western notions of queerness may not fully apply here, so I may well have missed some subtext. There are characters who deal with physical disabilities-

Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Odio a Ah-Wang y a Chen.
Con toda mi alma.

A pesar de que el libro puede parecer un poco plano, he conectado muchísimo con la historia y con Lin Shi.
Me ha parecido bastante fuerte la lectura, tal vez por lo descriptiva que fue la autora, o tal vez por lo que conlleva el relato.

Me ha dejado pensando.
Y mucho.
Tal vez demasiado.
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it
This book gives an intense view of domestic abuse. The marriage with the butcher was bad enough. He was horrific and cruel, an unforgettable and unforgivable villain.

What bothered me even more was the woman who was the next door neighbor. She KNEW how the wife suffered, yet she showed such callous disregard for her. She stopped caring and trying to protect her because she wanted to continue to get benefits from the butcher. All the women of the village seemed terribly insensitive. I tend to thi
Sep 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, fair-weather friends
Lin Shi's mother was all dressed in red. Her legs were bound with several coils of a long, thick rope. Stretching her arms out toward her daughter, she said over and over: "Ah-shi, I'm hungry, I'm hungry, I'm hungry...go beg some food for me, I'm hungry, I'm hungry."
Lin Shi discovered that she couldn't move a muscle, but she didn't know why. Momentary confusion followed. Unable to wait any longer, Lin Shi's mother plunger her hands into her own abdomen, fished out a mass of bloody entrails, an
Aug 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
The book itself is an easy read (only 140 pages) but it depressed and disturbed me as much as Raise the Red Lantern, one of the simultaneously best and most horrible movies I've ever seen.

The story was inspired by a groundbreaking case in which the old saying "There can be no murder without adultery" for the first time was dismissed. Until then, a woman that murdered her husband was assumed to do so because she had a lover, not because she was abused or mistreated, and jugded as such.

I guess wha
Olavia Kite
Un libro violento y deprimente. Imágenes muy vívidas de un infierno sin salida. Uno alcanza a sentir el hambre de la protagonista y el sabor de cada bocado que logra degustar a la espera de los ataques de su marido. Asimismo, nunca cesa el desespero que trae la falta de solidaridad de una sociedad que da por sentado el rol de cada quien en la familia.
Stephen Douglas Rowland
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Using dispassionate and exceedingly simple prose, Li Ang vividly put me into the mind of Lin Shi (the titular wife). I cannot recall any book I've read recently that so fully made (or allowed) me to experience the feelings of its protagonist vicariously to such a degree. It was unpleasant. In fact, this is one of the most utterly unpleasant novels I've ever read. Yet to me, it is still a masterpiece. ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019
What a traumatizing two hours—post midterm
Bibix Rivero
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Esta es una historia desgarradora basada en hechos reales ocurridos en Shanghai en la década de 1930.
Lin Shi es una niña que es separada de su mamá cuando está fue ejecutada por haber "desonrado a la familia" Lin Shi entonces debe vivir con su tío que la toma como sirvienta hasta que cumple la mayoría de edad y la vende a Chen, un carnicero mucho mayor que ella, un hombre desagradable por donde se lo mire, maligno, violento...horrible. El humilla, golpea, ultraja , tortura y viola a Lin Shi cada
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspirada en una noticia sobre un asesinato de razones poco creíbles por la sociedad machista de China, Li Ang nos atrae y captura con su novela "Matar al Marido".

Lin Shin, una joven marcada por el pasado adultero de su madre cae en las manos de un mata cerdos con una personalidad extraña.

No es hasta su primer encuentro matrimonial en el que Chen, el mata cerdos, deja mostrar sus verdaderas intenciones: hacer chillar a su esposa como un cerdo antes de morir y así obtener el máximo placer.

Al prin
Tradición, patriarcado, violencia y locura se dan la mano en un relato que sacudió Taiwán con su publicación en el año 1983 por la crudeza con la que retrata la violencia sexual y emocional de la que eran -y son- víctimas las mujeres. Aquí no hay sororidad -ese concepto tan bonito y repetido últimamente sobre la hermandad entre mujeres-, no hay libertad, ni amor, ni esperanza. Hay, eso sí, hambre, brutalidad, silencio y demencia. Hay miedo -no sólo al hombre, también a los dioses y los espíritus ...more
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
A book of few pages but so much tragedy and misunderstanding. A sorrowful tale from start to finish of a poor haunted woman and an abusive arranged marriage. The novel is very graphic in regards to the butchery aswell with one specific slaughter being explained over 2 pages which was difficult to read. I also think the image of Lin Shi's mother in her uncompromising position is a strong depiction of desperation that will remain with me long after other memories of the contents of this book are g ...more
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Verdaderamente un calvario la vida que lleva Lin Shi a lado de su esposo el sádico matacerdos que ejerce contra ella una violencia sexual, que la maltrata tanto a diario y en cualquier hora del día hasta dejarla inconsciente en repetidas ocasiones sin pensar en ella en ningún momento y solo en su satisfacción y, esta también la sociedad llena de habladurías negativas sobre ella como de su madre. Te sientes tan impotente en todo el desarrollo de esta dura novela. La recomiendo.
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
A friend gave me this and told me it was a very dark and disturbing. Although yes it was a bit disturbing it took me a long time to get through it. It just didn't hold my interest very long. I don't know what it was that just didn't pull me in.

It was interesting though for sure.
Feb 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
hate to rate it, I got to the middle of it and that alone took me weeks and with this being a short story I just couldn't get into the story. It didn't pull me in the way I was hoping.

I wish I could say I loved this one but it just was a not so much read for me. I wanted more.
Lesson learned: If you are married to a man who brutally beats you every day and kills animals for a living....DO NOT BUY PETS.
Brenna Heagney
Nov 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Really liked this, I give it a 3.8
The Butcher's Wife is short, brutal, and unforgettable. I can't do justice to it, so go read Praj's review. ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
A chilling story of a Chinese woman in a lose-lose situation with her abusive husband. I was very pleased to see this outstanding novel reprinted last year.
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Hace algún tiempo me hice con varios libros de Plataforma Editorial, ya que me gusta conocer nuevos sellos editoriales y de ella no había leído aún nada.

"Matar al marido" ha sido el primero que he leído de ellos y mi estreno con la editorial no ha podido ser mejor. Me ha encantado. Lo encontraréis, en su catálogo, dentro de la colección "Chindia".

La novela comienza diciéndonos que su protagonista, Lin Shi, ha matado a su marido, con lo que ya empezamos el libro conociendo algo cruci
Mircalla (#FreePatrickZaki)
le donne cinesi che non hanno mai pace

triste, è un libro fondamentalmente doloroso
parla della condizione delle donne nelle campagne cinesi, la cui unica funzione è quella di andare spose a un uomo che spesso non hanno mai visto prima,che le nutrirà e darà loro una casa, e che in cambio pretende la loro dedizione, il lavoro di casa, il sesso, e spesso anche l'obbligo di servire la suocera...una di queste si ribella, attenzione non nella Cina popolare dove neanche respirano le donne, figurarsi l
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: world-tour
Taiwan has kept to Chinese traditions more than mainland China and that tradition is not kind to women. This is a horrific catalogue of violence and mistreatment of women. The Los Angeles Times says it may be the most frightening book ever written about women oppressed by men. It might have been, apart from the fact that it is written in the vocabulary and style of a children's fairy tale, which rather destroys the effect and quickly became irritating. (The fault may be the translators', not the ...more
John Benson
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a brutal Taiwanese feminist tale. It is a story based on a crime that took place in Shanghai, but the author moved the story to a small neighborhood in southern Taiwan. A young orphan girl is forced to marry a butcher who brutalizes her physically and sexually. While this, and the reactions of the gossipy neighborhood are brought out very clearly, the story is written in an empathetic style. I ended up liking the book quite well because of its writing, the overall bigger themes, and the ...more
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a short book: I finished it in half an evening, but was fuming for well after that. Fuming in the best way. "The Butcher's Wife" is no "Anna Karenina" or the like. No long, winding descriptions of village or domestic life, or philosophical pondering. The actions of the characters speak for themselves and show how tradition, conservativism, and small town life can ruin the lives of the most helpless.

The book is to the point and will take a while to leave you.
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Although The Butcher's Wife was written in the 1980s and the story it was based upon occurred in the 1930s, it is still relevant to today's time (eg. the Lorena Bobbet case): Marital abuse and sexism continue to occur to women in the 21st century, and in some states in the U.S., it is legal to have intermarital nonconsensual intercourse. I find it astonishing and courageous that a book like this one was able to be published, but stories like these need to be told—Kodus to Li Ang! ...more
Kurt Kemmerer
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Powerful throughout, there is no chance to avoid flinching at this portrayal of abuse, so common in human history, though swept under the rug for the entirety of that history. This is not the beautiful, subtle writing of Li Ang’s later work, The Lost Garden, but it is a must read, nonetheless.
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500 Great Books B...: The Butcher's Wife - Li Ang 2 31 Aug 29, 2015 12:29PM  

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Li Ang (李昂; real name Shih Shu-tuan with Li Ang being her pen name) (born April 7, 1952, in Lukang, Taiwan) is a Taiwanese feminist writer. After graduating from Chinese Culture University with a degree in philosophy, she studied drama at the University of Oregon, after which she returned to teach at her alma mater. Her major work is The Butcher's Wife (殺夫: 1983, tr. 1986), though she has a copiou ...more

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