So this isn't exactly what I'd call a happy book. And by "this isn't exactly what I'd call a happy book," I mean it's depressing as all get out. I totally recommend it, but be warned, the book contains graphic details of rape, abuse, violence and gore. If you can't handle any of those items, I'd sit this one out.
Li Ang, the auther of the Butcher's Wife was inspired by the story real murder committed in the 1930's. According to traditional Chinese society, a woman who has killed her husband must have committed the murder due to her having committed an extramarital affair. The Butcher's Wife seeks to disprove that notion, giving us an idea of what kind of abuse might push someone to that edge.
Books like this one are important to remind us how society can fail certain people. The protagonist, Lin Shi, has absolutely zero resources available to her. She is trapped in her marriage by her ignorance and by her communities ignorance, as well as slut shamed by her neighbors for constant rape at the hands of her husband. As an American audience, it is very easy to separate ourselves from her life and say that Taiwan is oh so very far away, but the truth is, abuse happens everywhere, in a myriad of different ways. Books like this can reflect a very sad reality and point out common weaknesses everywhere. While it is an important read, I have to say, I was very glad it was a novella and not longer than it was, or I probably would not have made it all the way through. At its core, it is the portrayal of the destruction of a young woman, and as I said at the beginning, it's not exactly cheerful stuff. Excellent work, however.