Despite not loving – nor really understanding – how Jia Jia, the main character in An Yu’s Braised Pork worked, I quite enjoyed this debut novel. I read it over a course of a couple days, curious to know what was happening and why.

I think I understand the why, and I enjoyed the path of discovery Jia Jia takes.

“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 released from a marriage that had constrained her, Jia Jia embarks on a journey to discover the truth of the sketch. Starting at her neighbourhood bar, with its brandy and vinyl, and fuelled by anger, bewilderment, curiosity and love, Jia Jia travels deep into her past in order to arrive at her future.”

Jia Jia lives a different life than myself so I found her decisions and choices bewildering. I also didn’t like how she treated people, including her father and her stepmother, and although, I can understand, I just didn’t like it.

“Braised Pork is 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.”

What I like best about this book is that it is so different from what I usually would read – both in style of writing and the story itself. An while had didn’t love Jia Jia throughout the book, I think I will like the woman who comes out at the end.

Braised Pork costs $37.50 and is from PGC Books and Grove Press .

A copy of this book was provided by PGC Books for an honest review.
The opinions are my own
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