A Place to Read

Butter – by Asako Yuzuki, my latest book review

I decided that my next listen would be Butter by Asako Yuzuki. I have read a few Japanese translated books and really enjoyed them, but I’m not sure what I was expecting with this one.

Butter, book cover a sideways cow with bloody fingerprints
By: Asako Yuzuki
Narrated by: Hanako Footman
Length: 17 hrs and 12 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 29-02-24
Language: English
Publisher: Fourth Estate

The Blurb for Butter

There are two things that I can simply not tolerate: feminists and margarine.

Gourmet cook Manako Kajii sits in Tokyo Detention Centre convicted of the serial murders of lonely businessmen, who she is said to have seduced with her delicious home cooking. The case has captured the nation’s imagination but Kajii refuses to speak with the press, entertaining no visitors. That is, until journalist Rika Machida writes a letter asking for her recipe for beef stew and Kajii can’t resist writing back.

Rika, the only woman in her news office, works late each night, rarely cooking more than ramen. As the visits unfold between her and the steely Kajii, they are closer to a masterclass in food than journalistic research. Rika hopes this gastronomic exchange will help her soften Kajii but it seems that she might be the one changing. With each meal she eats, something is awakening in her body, might she and Kaji have more in common than she once thought?

Inspired by the real case of the convicted con woman and serial killer, “The Konkatsu Killer”, Asako Yuzuki’s Butter is a vivid, unsettling exploration of misogyny, obsession, romance and the transgressive pleasures of food in Japan.

My Review of Butter by Asako Yuzuki

I can’t say this was one of my favourite reads but it was certainly different. First you have to understand that Japanese culture is different to ours. Then you need to have some understanding of Japanese food. I recognised all of the food mentioned, but some may not. Food features a lot in this book an I think I can see the vision the author was trying to create.

I went in thinking we were going to find out if the woman, Manako Kajii actually committed the crimes she was convicted of and awaiting a re-trial for. I thought that maybe Rika, the main character, would find out what really happened. But I guess that’s why I read a lot of murder mysteries.

Rika did interview Kajii, and there was a re-trial you may be disappointed with the results. The book is much more about food, a lot of food, relationships, friendships, culture, family, love, body image and so much more. It’s long, almost twice as long as my usual listens, but I did find it difficult to put down. I felt I learnt something from this book and not just about the beauty of butter.

I listened on Audible and I found the narrator very easy to listen to. I also learnt how to pronounce some Japanese terms correctly.

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8 thoughts on “Butter – by Asako Yuzuki, my latest book review”

    1. The cover is interesting, it does lead you to think it’s more about the murders, but it really is about butter!

  1. It does sound like a strange, interesting plot. I really don’t know anything about Japanese customs or diet so it might go over my head. #MMBC

    1. I think possibly it would, the food is mentioned a lot and unless you know your ramen from your wasabi, then it might not be for you, but it’s an interesting look at human nature too.

  2. This sounds a bit ‘different’ lol. I don’t think this one’s for me but it sounds interesting if you want to learn about Japanese culture. xx

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