Under traditional Chinese law, the only valid explanation for a woman murdering her husband is her adultery. In 1930s Shanghai a case came to light where a woman dismembered her husband. There was no evidence that the woman had ever had a lover. This inspired Li Ang to write a deep and harrowing novel about the situation that might lead to such a murder. Chen Jiangshui is a pig-butcher in a small coastal Taiwanese town. Stocky, with a paunch and deep-set beady eyes, he resembles a pig himself. His brutality towards his new young wife, Lin Shi, knows no bounds. The more she screams, the more he likes it. She is further isolated by the vicious gossip of her neighbours who condemn her for screaming aloud, because, as they see it: As women we're supposed to be tolerant and put our husbands above everything else. According to an old Chinese belief, all butchers are destined for hell (an eternity of torment by the animals they have despatched). Lin Shi, isolated, despairing and finally driven to madness, fittingly kills him with his own instrument - a meat cleaver.
THE BUTCHER'S WIFE was a literary sensation in the Chinese language world with its suggestion that ritual and tradition are the functions of oppression. It also caused widespread outrage with its unsparing portrayal of sexual violence and emotional cruelty. The novel has made a profound impact on contemporary Chinese literature and today ranks as a landmark text in both women's studies and world literature.
Buy The Butcher's Wife book by Li Ang from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(186mm x 123mm x 12mm)
Peter Owen Publishers
Publisher: Peter Owen Publishers
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Author Biography - Li Ang
LI ANG is the pen name of Shih Shu-tuan. She was born in Taiwan in 1952. In 1975 she went to the US where she studied at the University of Oregon. Currently she teaches in the Department of Theatre at the University of Taipei.