Monday 26 February 2024

Book Review: Butter by Yuzuki Asako (Contemporary Fiction)

Author: Yuzuki Asako
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Publication Date: 29 February 2024 (2017)
Pages: 464
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

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

Gourmet cook Manako Kajii sits in Tokyo Detention Center 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.


It took me nearly a week to read Butter. This was partly due to the fact I was suffering from eye strain and tiredness at the time and couldn't read as much as usual and partly due because the prose was quite densely packed on the page, making it hard to skim/speed read. It is not, however, a reflection on the book itself which was well written, interesting and enjoyable. The story explored many interesting themes, and it did so in a way that kept you guessing as you tried to unravel truth from lies. It held my interest from start to finish and was thought-provoking throughout. I would definitely be keen to read other works by this author and I am giving this book 4.5 stars.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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