This is the second book I read by Kim Thúy, the first one being Ru. Both books share quite a few similarities: tone, structure, themes. It is quite an enjoyable read, rather short, lyrical, crisp and light like a shrimp cracker.
The tone is wistful, bordering on sad, with some thankful notes. Thankfulness for the opportunities in the main character’s life, grateful for the love and caring of close friends, for the comforts of home. Sadness when she is telling of the great hardships enduring by her mother and other family members in the political turmoils of Vietnam. Wonderment as the constant travails of adaptation in a foreign land.
So the themes are similar as in Ru: Vietnam war memories, family memories, family traditions, boat peoples, adapting to life in Québec, food and other sensual pleasures.
We see the same structure as in Ru: mostly short vignettes, sometimes connected, sometimes not, each accompanied by keyword in Vietnamese and French in the margin.
Enjoyable as this was, it would be interesting to see the author venture into new territory. To me this was rather repetitious. This book has been nominated for some literary prize, in English translation. It seems to get good reviews and a lot of press, as befits an author which has attained quite a star status in Québec, and apparently, beyond.
I do like the design of the Libre Expression editions. Those books are just beautiful.
Thúy, Kim. Mãn. Éditions Libre Expression, Montréal, 2013.