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Braised Pork

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,927 ratings  ·  379 reviews
One morning in autumn, Jia Jia walks into the bathroom of her Beijing apartment to find her husband - with whom she had been breakfasting barely an hour before - dead in the bathtub. Next to him a piece of paper unfolds like the wings of a butterfly, and on it is an image that Jia Jia can't forget.

Profoundly troubled by what she has seen, even while she is abruptly release
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 16th 2020 by Harvill Secker
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  1,927 ratings  ·  379 reviews

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Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: china, netgalley
An Yu grew up in Beijing and received her M.F.A. from New York University. Although she is now based in China, she writes in English. Braised Pork is her debut novel written during her time spent in New York. From my research on the internet Ms Yu received an advance of six figures for two books so there is lot of expectancy for this novel and I can understand why.

First of all, the title is brilliant, it draws the attention and makes you want to find out what made the author to choose a dish as
Jan 31, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-read, china
Listen, I really like books that are riddles, that offer me motifs and clues which I have to piece together in order to grasp what’s going on or what it all means. My main issue with this novel is that An Yu provides her readers with tons of dead ends, with scenes and objects which seem meaningful at first and then lead nowhere, and that the picture that does come together in the end is vague and ornamental – to me, that makes for a frustrating read. But if you are the kind of reader who enjoys ...more
Jia Jia's life is uneventful until the day she comes home to find her husband, Chen Hang, drowned in the bath. He leaves her with an apartment she can't sell and little else, except a strange drawing depicting what she calls 'the fish-man' – a figure with a fish's body and a man's head. Jia Jia, who is an artist, becomes somewhat obsessed with recreating the drawing, but finds the man's face so unremarkable she is unable to depict it. In attempting to make sense of Chen Hang's death, she also fo ...more
Elyse  Walters
Wow!!!!!! One of the best DEBUT novels I’ve read this year!!!!

I saw the title of this book floating around last year— I’m Jewish. The word PORK comes with family baggage...for many of us. As a little girl I remember asking my mother why we didn’t eat pork ( or shellfish), in our home. After her somewhat unmemorable explanation, she told me about the time snuck out with friends and ate a bacon cheeseburger — she continued to tell me about how violently sick she got, vomiting, and ghastly sick.
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: timeout-bookclub
Well that was perplexing in the extreme.
I thought we were doing a novel of moody Beijing thirty-something ennui. There is a loveless marriage, a hook up with a hot bartender (I added hot purely to keep things lively, in fact I believe he was nondescript). There is a fair amount of painting, particularly of a mysterious "fish-man".
It is all reasonably readable until it took a stumble into a more magical realist world, there was quite a lot of splashing around in water and something about tulips
Resh (The Book Satchel)
What a fantastic book! Be warned, this is not for the reader who loves a steady, clear plot. Braised Pork has a surreal feel to it, dream-like, melancholic, contemplative. Wu Jia Jia is shocked to find that her husband has died (drowned? Suicide?) in the bath tub. He leaves behind a strange drawing—of a ‘fish-man’. She, being an artist, tries to recreate it but is unable to do so. And so she travels to find the mystery of the fish-man and his connection (maybe) to her husband’s death.

The book se
Gumble's Yard
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
These memories have been like a hole in the ground, right beneath the steps to my door. On rainy days there would be a puddle, and I’d always step around it. Sometimes, there’d be relentless storms, and I’d stay inside and watch the hole fill up and overflow. Long periods of time would also come when the hole would be dry and almost unnoticeable. And then, without warning, it would rain again. But throughout the years, I have come to accept that the world spins, one season pours into another,
/ / / Read more reviews on my blog / / /

Sparsely written and permeated by a sense of surreality Braised Pork had the potential of being a wonderfully weird tale. Alas, Braised Pork falls short of its premise. I found the story to be painfully slow-going, the main character failed to drew me in, and, ultimately, the novel left me feeling rather unimpressed (in 'was that all?' kind of way).

Set in Beijing, Braised Pork tells the story of Jia Jia, a married woman in her 30s who one day walks into
Jay Moran
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020-releases
One of my most anticipated releases of the year, I am extremely sad to say that I didn’t like it. I usually preface my reviews with a particular quote I loved or that I felt encapsulated the overall feeling of the book - I realised as I closed Braised Pork that I hadn’t found one.

Reading this book, I found myself perpetually slouching, turning page after page, feeling numb. There were occasional moments that would have me readjust and straighten up in my seat, thinking yes, this is it, this is
Sam Quixote
Mar 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
Set in modern-day Beijing, doting housewife Jia Jia finds her husband floating face down in their tub one morning, dead. Next to him - a bizarre drawing of a fish man (Abe Sapien?!). What does it all mean? She sets out to find answers.

… and finds none. Because An Yu’s debut novel Braised Pork is awful! I’ve wanted to read a contemporary Chinese novel for a while and that intriguing premise sounded right up my street. Well, alls I can say is that I can see why Chinese literature isn’t taking the
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, arc
The writing style is so mesmerizing, I literally couldn’t put this book down. This was such a great character piece, and learning a little bit about what life is like in Beijing was amazing! I really recommend this book!
Renee Godding
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 stars

When I think back on Braised Pork years from now, I will most likely remember very little of the story, yet still be able to vividly recall its atmosphere and (cultural) setting.
The story begins when Jia Jia finds her husband dead in their small Beijing apartment bathroom, having mysteriously drowned in their bath. Near his body, the only clue Jia Jia finds is a sketch of a half-man, half-fish creature that may have had significance to her husband. What follows is an exploration of
An Yu’s debut novel Braised Pork starts with the grotesque death of businessman Chen Hang in his Beijing apartment. His young wife Jia Jia discovers him drowned in a half-filled bath, face down and “his rump sticking out from the water”. Is it suicide or a freak accident? Jia Jia can’t really say, especially since the couple have long been drifting apart and Chen Hang rarely opened up to her. Jia Jia only has two clues to try to get to the heart of the mystery. One is the strange sketch of what ...more
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Unique, mesmerizing, and reflective!

Braised Pork is a short but mystifyingly lush tale about a young, vulnerable widow, Jia Jia whose life is irrevocably changed, upheaved, and somewhat freed when her husband suddenly dies and leaves behind a sketch of a “fish-man” figure.

The prose is elegant and expressive. The imagery is gritty and vivid. And the plot is a spiritual journey into the true meaning and importance of life, love, and death.

Braised Pork as a whole is a beautifully crafted tale that
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
I really enjoyed this character-driven deep-dive into the theme of grief particularly. I also really connected with the strong theme of empowerment that Jia Jia embodies, her literal self-discovery as how this is developed in the narrative in connection with finding meaning behind her late-husband's death (and the mysterious note left by him). A really solid debut!

Grateful to have received a review copy of this title.
After the death of her husband, a woman leaves her home and embarks on an adventure.
Kasa Cotugno
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
An Yu, who lives in Beijing, was educated in New York and writes in English. Apparently, this is the reason for her receiving a large advance from her publisher, as her perspective as a Chinese national but writing for a different audience will lend clarity for the English reader of a story set in China without the burden of being translated. The result, a truly immersive novel, hypnotic in tone, with a view of Chinese life more coherent than most. Jia Jia discovers her husband's body dead in th ...more
A.K. Kulshreshth
Jan 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
I am quite comfortable with "Wikipedia books" (or films), i.e. books or films that I need to read up on just to figure them properly. Sometimes (e.g. with Mulholland Drive) I've missed out something at first and it's wonderful to have all the pieces fall in place later.

With Braised Pork , unfortunately, I didn't have that experience. There's a lot that is hard to figure. It's a comfort to know that I'm not the only one, though. As this review in The Guardian states, "weird things keep happen
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This must be a first: finishing an arc on the day the book is being published! This is a debut novel by Chinese writer An Yu and so many of the themes in this book deeply resonate with me: family, love, grief, belonging. Let me make it clear that if you don’t like magical realism then this book will not be for you. It is very dream like as Jia Jia who finds her husband dead in the bathtub one day after breakfast. For the first time in her life there is space and time to ponder who she is and wha ...more
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars for Braised Pork (audiobook) by An Yu read by Vera Chok. I thought the story was interesting. I liked the insight into Chinese Culture. But when it got into the supernatural it kind of lost me. The narration was fine.
Teenu Vijayan
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I haven't explored much Chinese writing and this book proved to be a highly enjoyable way to delve into that forte.
The title itself drew me towards the book, though it in no way prepared me for what to expect from this book.
The story is set in Beijing and our protagonist Jia-Jia finds herself in midst of a personal tragedy which knocks her down. Even though her relationship was built on convenience sake, the mundane routine kept her sanity in check and loneliness crept over within no time.
Left a
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aoc
I found myself, in late february, reading An Yu's debut novel, Braised Pork, the story of which unfolds in modern-day Beijing, as we trail the restless venture of Jia Jia, who, following the death of her husband, seek answers to the puzzling sketch of a "fish-man" left behind by him. With a vague Murakami essence, it reminded me of the disconcerting yet refined style of Yoko Ogawa's The Memory Police, and the compulsion of Han Kang's triptych The Vegetarian.

Water runs deep through the book like
May 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, netgalley
Jia Jia's husband kills himself and leaves behind a drawing of a fish man. Now that's totally off so I needed to know what the meaning was behind it. I thought Jia Jia would learn of some sort of past of her husbands or that there would be a lot of adventure for her but not much happened. I do like how Jia Jia grew and we were able to see a lot of character development. I did enjoy this book however - the ending sadly disappointed me because I didn't get any of the answers I was looking for. I s ...more
Kenny Leck
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read it in one sitting, and came off feeling that this was an easy read, interesting enough, and promptly filled in the three stars rating on Goodreads. But, and a BIG BUT at that, I am so very wrong, very very wrong. I decided to write a review the morning after the read, and going through all the details, and connections again in my head, i was silently wowed by the story that An Yu has created. It reads straight-forward but hell, this is a novel like a large body of water, the ocean, where ...more
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
An Yu’s debut novel, Braised Pork is quite a unique read. I was taken to territories, I never knew existed; part thriller, part magical realism part drama this is the type of book that will surprise the reader many times.

Jia Jia walks home and finds her husband dead in the bathtub. Yet it’s clearly not suicide or accidental drowning. The only clue the husband leaves is a drawing of a half fish/man creature. Jia Jia then decides to uncover the mystery behind this drawing. This leads to a journey
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
shoutout to Anna and Ashley and Esther ::::::0)
this was a very enjoyable read and so descriptive in very beautiful ways.
although I know that the book portrayed quite a long journey of discovery and development for Jia Jia, the section that struck me the most was the beginning of the book when she first discovers her husbands corpse.

In this section, her first thoughts are of herself, and she feels this resentment towards him that really captivated me. Because grief is normally portrayed as mi
Jia Jia's searches for the source of the mysterious sketch she interprets as a 'fish-man.' The drawing that she found next to the dead body of her husband Chen Hang, will launch her from her apartment in Beijing to Tibet. Her travels are a journey of self discovery that reach into her past in order to release her into a new future.
I was not drawn to Jia Jia's story in the way I expected to be. That includes the dream world she flows through, and the character of Ren Qi, whom she met in Tibet, bo
Nov 17, 2020 rated it liked it
An obvious heir to Murakami, this magical realist dive into grief yielded more shrugs than nods from me for most of its length. It was written in English, but it read with the coldness of a translated work in which some meaning/depth is lost in the interpretation. It was going to be rated two stars, because I didn't exactly enjoy it, but everything came together at the end in a way that I found well done, so three stars it is. ...more
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, arc
Special thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review

"Even if I take my heart out, dissect it into pieces, and explain each piece in intricate detail to you - in the end, I would still have to stuff the whole damn thing back into my own chest."

I absolutely love this debut novel from Chinese author An Yu.

Wu Jia Jia finds her husband dead with his head in the bathtub and nothing but a drawing of a fish man lying next to him - yeah, you read that right. Fr
Apr 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Disclaimer: I receive a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I don't want to stereotype however I see this too often that asian literature for contemporary books are always written with a content of magical realism.
I find it often that asian literature always are the one to write magical realism.
I don't hate it but I just wonder why, is it due to how we we thought to write or our imaginary of magical realism is based on experience and culture.

This book got me so weird out.
I ki
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