Braised Porkby An Yu
Beautiful, dreamlike, and utterly intoxicating, Braised Pork is the beguiling debut of an outstandingly talented young writer who is based in China but writes in English
One autumn morning, Jia Jia walks into the bathroom of her lavish Beijing apartment to find her husband dead. One minute she was breakfasting with him and packing for an upcoming trip, the next, she finds him motionless in their half-full bathtub. Like something out of a dream, next to the tub Jia Jia discovers a pencil sketch of a strange watery figure, an image that swims into Jia Jia’s mind and won’t leave.
The mysterious drawing launches Jia Jia on an odyssey across contemporary Beijing, from its high-rise apartments to its hidden bars, as her path crosses some of the people who call the city home, including a jaded bartender who may be able to offer her the kind of love she had long thought impossible. Unencumbered by a marriage that had constrained her, Jia Jia travels into her past to try to discover things that were left unsaid by the people closest to her. Her journey takes her to the high plains of Tibet, and even to a shadowy, watery otherworld, a place she both yearns and fears to go.
Exquisitely attuned to the complexities of human connection, and an atmospheric and cinematic evocation of middle-class urban China, An Yu’s Braised Pork explores the intimate strangeness of grief, the indelible mysteries of unseen worlds, and the energizing self-discovery of a newly empowered young woman.
An Indies Introduce Title
“In searching for answers to her husband’s untimely death, a young widow in Beijing finds room to explore her own existential angst . . . Yu’s original debut spins an increasingly surreal tale which brilliantly mirrors Jia Jia’s own discombobulation . . . Proof positive that rebirths are entirely possible—even in one lifetime.”—Kirkus Reviews
“An’s poignant debut tells the story of a young woman trying to find purpose in her life in the wake of disorienting personal tragedy . . . An draws Jia Jia with great affection and sympathy as the character grapples with the elusive meaning of her dreams and powerful emotional experiences. Readers will be moved by An’s mature meditation on the often inexplicable forces that shape the trajectory of fan individual life.”—Publishers Weekly
“The premise itself is intriguing enough, but the real magic is in watching Jia Jia stretch her limbs as she leaves behind a rather restrictive marriage and encounters places and people she never imagined. Come for the mystery, stay for self-discovery of a liberated woman.”—Literary Hub
“A startlingly original debut . . . While it’s easy to see that Braised Pork borrows something of Haruki Murakami’s brand of strange melancholia, there’s a startlingly original imagination of its own at work here . . . A sensitive portrait of alienated young womanhood.”—Guardian
“A seductive, sharply observed tale of love, loss and hope.”—Daily Mail
“An elegant, dreamlike tale of a woman’s self-realization, set in contemporary Beijing.”—Daily Telegraph
“Rich and strange . . . Wild and distinctive.”—Observer
“Strange and cinematic, this is an author to keep an eye on.”—Stylist
“Bold yet understated, Braised Pork is the debut of a supremely confident and gifted writer.”—Katie Kitamura, author of A Separation
“This exquisite novel is many things: a detective story in which the real object of pursuit is how one makes meaning of a sometimes ineffable existence; a meditation on the talismanic power of art and the indefatigability of the human spirit; and a many-faceted, perfectly cut gem of psychological portraiture set in well-wrought sentences burnished to a gorgeous luster. The emotions in this book keep pace with you, shadowing you with a quiet intensity, until in the last stretch they overtake you completely.”—Matthew Thomas, New York Times-bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves
“Yu is a fantastic storyteller. The prose is sly and controlled, yet page after page, I found myself spellbound by a story that does what all writers hope to do, which is to make the familiar unfamiliar.”—Weike Wang, author of Chemistry
“What a singular, slippery, transfixing novel this is. An Yu achieves a hypnotizing emotional clarity as she takes her narrator ever further from a stifling life in Beijing into a watery realm unlike any I’ve read before.”—Idra Novey, author of Those Who Knew
“Braised Pork is mesmerizing, incisive, and utterly disarming. An Yu writes beautifully about loneliness, the experience of isolation—from others, from one’s own past—and the possibility of human connection, however fragile.”—Rosie Price, author of What Red Was
“What a voice An Yu unfurls in Braised Pork. So elegant and poised, so tuned to the great mysteries of love and loss. Like a breeze on a still day, hers is a sound I didn’t know I needed until I felt it. Braised Pork is a major debut.”—John Freeman
“An astonishing look at a new widow’s attempt to make sense of her husband’s death and her newfound independence, through which she rediscovers her love of painting, forms new and profound bonds, rekindles previously dormant familial relationships, and ultimately finds peace in uncertainty. Set in Beijing and Tibet, Braised Pork is a poetic reflection on life and all of its meandering, unpredictable messiness.”—Jake Cumsky-Whitlock, Solid State Books (Washington, DC)
“Jia Jia finds her husband unexpectedly and mysteriously dead in the bath next to a drawing of what can only be described as a fish man, and now you can’t stop reading. Searching for answers, Jia Jia begins a journey that will take her into the heart of Tibet, where she will meet others seeking answers to life, love, and death. Filled with magical realism, Yu’s writing transports you to places you never knew you needed to go! The writing is taut and the characters complex in this mystical debut!”—Susan Schlesinger, Books on the Square (Providence, RI)