Tuesday, July 1, 2014 |
In vignettes that shift back and forth between past and present, Ru tells the story of a young woman forced to leave her Saigon home during the Vietnam War. In spare, luminous prose, Kim Thúy traces the woman's journey from childhood in an affluent Saigon neighbourhood to youth in a crowded Malaysian refugee camp and then to Quebec, where she struggles to fit in - all aspects of the author's own life story.
In 2012, Ru was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Man Asian Literary Prize. It won the Governor General's Award for French-language fiction in 2010, and the Prix du Grand Public Salon du livre de Montréal.
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.
I first saw the light of day in Saigon, where firecrackers, fragmented into a thousand shreds, coloured the ground red like the petals of cherry blossoms or like the blood of the two million soldiers deployed and scattered throughout the villages and cities of a Vietnam that had been ripped in two.
I was born in the shadow of skies adorned with fireworks, decorated with garlands of light, shot through with rockets and missiles. The purpose of my birth was to replace lives that had been lost. My life's duty was to prolong that of my mother.
From Ru by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman ©2012. Published by Vintage Canada.