Canada Reads·Canadian


Vietnam-born Canadian writer Kim Thúy's debut novel, Ru, won Canada Reads in 2015.

Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman

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.

Ru was the Canada Reads 2015 winner defended by Cameron Bailey.

Read an excerpt | Author interviews | More about this book

From the book

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.

Author interviews

Kim Thuy's bestselling novel debut Ru

11 years ago
Duration 5:14
Ru is the poetic, autobiographical novel debut of Saigon-born, Montreal-based writer Kim Thuy. She talks to CBC about being a Vietnamese refugee arriving in Canada, taking on life's challenges and why her novel has sparked controversy in her homeland.
Shelagh's extended conversation with Kim Thuy, author of "Ru".
Kim Thuy, the author of "Vi," on her favourite characters in fiction, her greatest fear, and more.
Kim Thuy on "Man"

More about this book

Why Cameron Bailey wants you to read Ru

8 years ago
Duration 1:58
Canada Reads 2015 victor Cameron Bailey tells CBC's Deana Sumanac-Johnson why Kim Thuy's Ru is the book to break boundaries.

Canada Reads 2015: Cameron Bailey defends Ru

8 years ago
Duration 1:53
TIFF's artistic director, Cameron Bailey, describes his strategy for defending Kim Thúy's Ru, as translated by Sheila Fischman, to CBC's Jelena Adzic.
"Ru," has come out on top in the Canada Reads: One Book to Break Barriers competition. To mark the news, we dip into our archives for a listen to Kim Thúy's 2012 visit to All In a Day.
Meet one of Canada's finest literary translators, Sheila Fischman. She translated Kim Thuy's award winning novel, Ru, into English.