This is an exceptional debut novel about a woman who tries to make sense of her life after her husbands apparent suicide. Most puzzling perhaps is the only communication he left behind, a drawing of a man's face with a fish body. Jia Jia becomes obsessed in discovering the meaning behind this as she starts to have her own interactions with a similar character in her travels. Along the way she interacts with a cast of characters across Beijing and Tibet who are searching for meaningfulness as well. A quiet but powerful novel on human grief and connection, I can't wait to see what's in store from this talented young writer.— From Carl
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.
About the Author
An Yu was born and raised in Beijing, and left at the age of eighteen to study in New York at NYU. A graduate of the NYU MFA in Creative Writing, she writes her fiction in English. She is twenty-six years old and lives in Beijing. Braised Pork is her first novel.