Book Review: Ru, Kim Thúy

| 23 July , 2012 | Reply

Translated by Sheila Fischman

I came into the world during the Tet Offensive, in the early days of the Year of the Monkey, when the long chains of firecrackers draped in front of houses exploded polyphonically along with the sound of machine guns.’

A young girl and her family leave behind their wealthy lifestyle, which lay in ruins from the Vietnam War; they escape to the waters for a new beginning. From there they travel to a Malaysian refugee camp and live crowded, and muddy, with many other families who also fled their homes in hopes of survival and a better life.

Immigrating to Quebec, they are overwhelmed by the kindness and hospitality of strangers; people willing to go out of their way to find them clothes, take them on trips and welcome them into their homes.

It is during this time, when they truly start to begin again and the dreams that they held so close to their hearts and in their minds are able to break free and become something more.

Ru by Kim Thúy is a series of vignettes, which weave together in a fluid motion, much like a wave; they rock back and forth, gently tossing the reader deeper and deeper into the novel.

There is a beauty in the way Thúy writes; with her vivid and lyrical descriptions she has the ability to create an atmosphere, landscape and characters right before our eyes. And for each word she writes, she adds another layer to the story, another depth to a person, another meaning to a phrase.

The novel’s compact size makes it easy to carry and read when you’re on the go, though you may find yourself stopping to mull over several pages, letting the words sink in before you can move on to the next vignette.

Thúy blends humour with sadness, and comfort with honesty. There is a confiding tone, in which she tells us the highs and lows of her past, and dreams for the future. We watch her grow and change, as events alter and shape her new life.

Ru holds in it some shocking and sorrow-filled moments, yet in it’s own way there is something uplifting and warm about the true sense of family, community and spirit that is soaked through all the pages, and bleeds from all the words.

Available now: Allen & Unwin RRP$19.99


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