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Irreverent, witty and wise, But the Girl is a campus novel set off-campus and a coming-of-age story about not wanting to leave your family behind.


Shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction

Best Australian Fiction Book of the Year (Readings)

Best Book of 2023 (Marie Claire UK)

Best Book of August (The Guardian)

Best Book of August (The Age)

“But the Girl is a vivid novel of consciousness with a delightful sense of play. Jessica Zhan Mei Yu writes with striking originality that combines the irreverent and the philosophical about the ambiguities and ambivalences of contemporary life. A wonderful new novel for a metamodern world.”


'A unique and meaningful novel: refreshingly unsentimental, written with a directness that is both self-effacing and wry. The voice sometimes recalls Lucia Berlin, JD Salinger or Lorrie Moore but it’s entirely her own'


A fiercely intelligent re-examination of literature through the lens of colonisation, full of fire.

ALICE PUNG, author of 100 DAYS

Order from Penguin Random House Australia.

Order from Jonathan Cape in the UK.

Order from Unnamed Press in the US. 


Guardian: “Yu is the writer Girl wishes to be – remaking, in her own image, the young female protagonist, the Künstlerroman, the postcolonial novel, and the art of writing itself.”

Publisher's Weekly: "Yu's masterful debut...signals the arrival of a bold new voice." (starred review)

The Age: "Yu’s narrator instinctively plays anthropologist, skewering not just social minutiae but language itself.”

The Conversation: “Jessica Zhan Mei Yu has crafted a finely layered novel, with a vivid interior world and a playful, vivacious prose style. Here is a writer whose sharp observations, embrace of self-critique and crisp voice keep the reader engaged in the imagined world of the novel – and help us see the world anew”


Australian Book Review: “With But the Girl, Yu offers a challenging and invigorating work of many faces.”

Meanjin: “A narrator like Girl feels precious and singular: in the mirror of her thoughts, I saw myself often, a feeling that was both embarrassing and deeply affirming, which was much like growing up.”

Books + Publishing: “Yu writes about the legacy of being a second-generation immigrant, racism, intergenerational trauma, the reclamation of English as a subject of colonisation, and the pitfalls of academia with a biting incisiveness and gallows humour.”

The Skinny: Jessica Zhan Mei Yu’s debut novel is a delicate investigation into intergenerational immigrant subjectivities (5 star review)


The List: But the Girl is a debut that heralds a skilled and singular new talent.


But the Girl


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