The Butcher's Wife

The Butcher's Wife

3.64 (195 ratings by Goodreads)
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Product details

  • Paperback | 150 pages
  • 134.62 x 215.9 x 12.7mm | 249.47g
  • Peter Owen Publishers
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0720607590
  • 9780720607598

Review Text

A magnificently gory morality tale, set in a Taiwan village of the 1930's and based on the true-life story of an equally bloodcurdling Shanghai murder case. Li Ang is the pen name for a Taiwanese feminist writer born in 1952, and this, her first novel, caused a scandal in Taiwan due to its incendiary (read violent, sexually repugnant) nature. Told in clear-as-a-bell prose (aided by a fine translation), the story is starkly repellent - about Pig-Butcher Chen, a beefy man in his 40s who has eyes (like all of his trade, we're told) covered with rolls of fat, and his abuse of his skinny, waif-like wife, Lin-shi, who can't bear the sight of blood - unfortunately for her. Not only is her sex life a constant assault, but her husband slaps, shoves, starves and insults her, finally forcing her to take a job cleaning entrails in his slaughterhouse while he joyfully hacks up pigs. When Lin-shi can take it no more, she grabs the knife Pig-Butcher has brought to their bed - threatening to disembowel her if she doesn't howl with sufficient volume at his sadistic lovemaking (he adores hearing women scream - just like pigs) - and dissects him with it, neatly employing the knowledge gleaned from watching her husband at his place of work. While disposing of his expertly quartered remains, she is apprehended by a neighbor and sentenced to death for taking a lover - for, as the Chinese believe, "There's no murder without adultery" (why else would one murder a husband?). Feminism with a vengeance - and pretty gut-wrenching stuff, served up in its razor-sharp prose. As for the point, only that may be a little heavy-handed, or transparent. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

195 ratings
3.64 out of 5 stars
5 18% (36)
4 39% (77)
3 32% (63)
2 7% (14)
1 3% (5)
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