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Q&A: Kim Thuy



thuy_kim.jpgTo celebrate this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, we asked each longlisted author a series of questions to help us gain insight into their work and their thoughts on the craft of writing. Here we have Kim Thuy, author of Ru.

Q: What inspired you to write Ru?

A: I have always loved words. But the writing of this book was accidental. I'd gone from one career to another every five years until I was 39, when my husband made me stay home for a month and think about what I wanted to do when I grew up. As an immigrant, just grateful for the freedoms afforded me by a new country, I had never allowed myself to ask such a question, let alone answer it. So, I cheated -- I didn't spend the time researching new careers. Instead, I took the month to write. And then one month lead to another...until the end of the year, when there was a book.
 
Q: What would you say is at the core of it?

A: It is about the privilege of the lucky few who have survived chaos and seen beauty coming to them in the most unexpected ways.
 
Q: If your book was being made into a movie, who would be your dream director?

A: I have seen The Bridges of Madison County tens of times. I know exactly how Meryl Streep touched Clint Eastwood's collar while she was talking over the phone. As well, I know how the wind gently blew Meryl Streep's hair as she stood by the bridge looking at Clint Eastwood's camera. I love Eastwood's attention to small details and the unsaid. So, I guess he is my dream director!
 
Q: Which Scotiabank Giller-longlisted book (other than your own!) would you most like to see take home the prize?

A: The Emperor of Paris by C.S. Richardson for his elegance in storytelling and his gentle handling of words.
 
Q: Where is the absolute best place for you to write?

A: A place where there is plenty of time, where I don't feel guilty for paying a lot of attention to people who don't even exist! 
 
Q: Is there a specific subject matter, event or location close to your heart that you would love to write about in the future?

A: I wish to build a story about and around the people who have taught me how to love.
 
Q: What book has moved or affected you most in the past year?

A: L'accordeur de silences by Mia Couto. I read this book with a pen in hand because on every page there was at least one or two sentences I wanted to remember and go back to. But, mostly, I am still haunted by its images and ideas. For example, about the death of a mother, the son said that he became an orphan not when she died but when he could no longer see her face in his head and hear her voice in his heart.
 
ru.jpgQ: What is one insight into the craft of writing or the writing life that you wish you'd known much earlier?

A: I am new to the literary world, still discovering, still fascinated by the complexity of this industry and the number of people working behind the scenes to turn a manuscript into a book and to bring the book from the printer to a reader's home. The only thing I thought I knew -- but did not -- was the importance of the chair in the life of someone who spends most of her days on her behind!
 

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