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Braised Pork

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  254 ratings  ·  73 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
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 9th 2020 by Harvill Secker
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, china
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
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 ...more
Jan 31, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, 2020-read
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
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
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
Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
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 ...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
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 ...more
After the death of her husband, a woman leaves her home and embarks on an adventure.
Jaclyn Crupi
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
One morning in autumn, just after breakfast, Jia Jia finds her husband dead in the bathtub of their Beijing apartment. And so begins a truly beguiling story of trangression, folklore and inherited fables. This strongly reminded me of The Vegetarian and it was weird and wonderful in a similiar way. At a sentence level, Yu is a superb writer and I kept having to pause to enjoy her prose. I absolutely loved this. Thanks so much to @beccadiep for recognising I would and sending this my way. I’m sure ...more
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
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 中国, fiction, netgalley
As a fan of contemporary Chinese literature I was eager to check out Braised Pork, which follows a young Beijing woman - Jia Jia - who embarks on a journey to understand a sketch which appears next to her husband's body when she finds him dead in the bath.

I think this novel will be enjoyed by many others, but unfortunately the story was a bit vague and meandering for my liking. I'd recommend this for fans of more contemplative and quiet novels rather than those that are more plot-driven.

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. From there, she tries to figure
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.
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
Alyssia Cooke
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a weird little book and I'm not quite sure I fully understand it even now, particularly with some of the references that seem to lie in the magical realism realm of things. That said, I have to admit to really quite enjoying the novel despite this. It's a slow novel, focusing very heavily on the characters and I found myself drawn in despite myself.

The death of Jia Jia's husband is a shock to her, particularly considering the odd circumstances surrounding it; found upside down in the
Murtaza Kuwarawala
Title : Braised Pork

Author : An Yu

Genre : Contemporary Fiction

Disclaimer : I received an eARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

I decided to finally expand my reading horizons this year by picking up books from different regions so as to gain more knowledge on newer topics everyday. So, when I got the opportunity to pick up Braised Pork by An Yu, I was pretty intrigued about the cultural importance of China and the knowledge it would impart and here is my take
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
‘We explain things that we don’t understand by using other things that we don’t understand.’

When Wu Jia Jia finds her husband dead in their bathroom, bent over the bath with his head submerged (we never find out if it is suicide or an accident), her life is totally changed. Left with only the apartment they shared and a small amount of money, she frequents a local bar where she meets Leo, has a brief affair, and ultimately moves in with her aunt and grandmother to save money. All this time she
Jan 29, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love books set in a different place/culture.

Described in part as: "...a cinematic, often dreamlike evocation of nocturnal Beijing and the high plains of Tibet, and an exploration of myth-making, loss, and a world beyond words, which ultimately sees a young woman find a new and deeper sense of herself."--I beg to differ.

Jia Jia, newly widowed [accidental drowning? suicide? other?--never resolved], is set adrift. Who is she? Who was her husband? What is the meaning behind the fish man drawing he
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
4 stars

Thanks to Grove and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Jia Jia finds her husband drowned in the bathtub. His death is odd- he leaves no note, just a drawing of a fish with a man's face.

Jia Jia sets on a quest that takes her from Beijing to Tibet, in search of the origin of this image that haunts her. Initially, she wants to understand her husband. Later, she realizes she wants to understand more about herself.

This is a dark story, and told well. It
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is so unsual. I have never picked up this times of books with this metaphor.
The plot is interesting because Jia Jia finds her husband dead in their bathroom and she starts to realize that her easy life was not perfect and good as she thought. but now she can live a free life or can she?

Even living a perfect life Jia Jia was not happy and she realizes that she was not doing what she liked that was painting. Jia Jia is a flawed character and yet so closed off that she cannot open up. Her
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 rounding up
Braised Pork starts off with this mysterious death of Jai Jai's husband Chen Hang. We quickly learn that Jai Jai's marriage to Chen Hang was one of convenience and duty rather than one of love. Chen Hang leaves Jai Jai with very little to support herself, other than their apartment, a small sum of money, and the idea of a "fish-man" that Chen Hang sketched out poorly. Jai Jai becomes consumed with the idea of the "fish-man" and is certain it plays a role in Chen Hang's death.

A slow contemplative novel surrounding the character of Jia Jia who deals with grief and loss after the death of her husband. The writing is simple but fairly unremarkable. An Yu writes perceptively about middle-class life in contemporary China; the various understated dynamics between Jia Jia and her family and friends are notable. Later chapters of the novel are set in Tibet which adds to the novel's quiet cinematic quality. Not entirely convinced by the book's 'magical realist' nor 'mythical' ...more
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was ok

Braised Pork was a slow burning read about a woman grieving for her husband she found in the bathtub at their luxurious Bejing apartment.

I just didn't click with this book but managed to persevere. The writing is lovely but I just found the pacing too slow and there wasn't really a ton of plot. I wouldn't recommend if you're a fan of plot driven books (which I am) so this just didn't work for me.

Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Braised Pork is an unusual book, detached and contemplative in equal measures. Not all that much happens, but the storytelling is rich with metaphor and emotions the characters struggle to understand or define.

There were moments when the narrative became a little too impenetrable, but on the whole I found Jia Jia to be an interesting and empathetic navigator. I particularly enjoyed the reflective passages: there are some wonderful evocations of loneliness and finding yourself when all else is
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read this in one massive gulp. Just the right amount of meandering, ambiguity and questions. Mebbe I just like books like this. Good to fill the in between spaces although tbh it’s probably more of a 3.5 towards the 4 because shit can certainly be weirder while this lolls abt between some form of magical realism and apathy to life for the main character. Definitely want to see a painting of the fish-man now...
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was sent a copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, the title is odd and a bit obscure and the description was intriguing but gave little away. I have to say though I was pleasantly surprised at every turn, from the shocking opening, the emotional twists and turns leading from that and right on through the quasi-mystical journey our protagonist goes on.

The book as a whole is very deftly written, talking plainly where necessary, alternately
dnf @ 34%
I wanted to push myself through it, but alas. New year, new me.

Braised Pork is not a bad book- it's just clear that it's not the right book for me. I felt like the pacing was completely off and it felt kind of staccato... she did this and then she did this and he was confused and she did this. This review resonated and put my thoughts into words better than I could.

Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
evocative x
Dec 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Gorgeous cover, no? Despite the red flecks, it’s not especially gory; more than anything, it reminded me of Murakami, which is a comparison I generally dislike but which does occasionally seem applicable. In Braised Pork, a young woman finds her husband dead in the bath, the only clue to his demise being a scrap of paper upon which he has drawn a fish with the head of a man. His widow sets out to find the source of the strange drawing, and finds herself re-examining her own childhood in the ...more
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