Thursday, 21 February 2013


by Kim Thúy
Random House Of Canada | September 6, 2012 | Trade Paperback
160 pages - 18.95 $

En français ici

Why this book

For its cover (I know it's lame!) For the poetry it exuded even before you open it. For the originality of the narrative form ... which I must say was a good point because I thought ... after all, even if it is not terrible,I will finish it quickly!


At ten years old, Kim Thúy fled Vietnam on a boat with her family, leaving behind a grand house and the many less tangible riches of their home country: the ponds of lotus blossoms, the songs of soup-vendors. The family arrived in Quebec, where they found clothes at the flea market, and mattresses with actual fleas. Kim learned French and English, and as she grew older, seized what opportunities an immigrant could; she put herself through school picking vegetables and sewing clothes, worked as a lawyer and interpreter, and later as a restaurateur. She was married and a mother when the urge to write struck her, and she found herself scribbling words at every opportunity - pulling out her notebook at stoplights and missing the change to green. The story emerging was one of a Vietnamese émigré on a boat to an unknown future: her own story fictionalized and crafted into a stunning novel.

The novel's title, Ru, has meaning in both Kim's native and adoptive languages: in Vietnamese, ru is a lullaby; in French, a stream. And it provides the perfect name for this slim yet potent novel. With prose that soothes and sings, Ru weaves through time, flows and transports: a river of sensuous memories gathering power. It's a classic immigrant story told in a breathtaking new way.

What I think about it

This is the story of Kim, a young  boat People, arrived in Canada and who builts her identity : a mixture of her native Vietnam and her new homeland. She gives us a series of stories about her, her family or her knowledge, and through anecdotes we understand what was life in Vietnam after the departure of Western and what is the life of refugees..

I loved it. It reads very quickly (one day only). In fact, I devoured it. I loved her style : poetic and decent despite the horrors told. Never negative, even if it is sometimes nostalgic, the author gives no moral lesson but presents her reality with humor and kindness. Even the style of the book is original: each anecdote or story idea starts on a new page, even if the previous one is only ten lines long. 

This book proves that you can tell the darkness of this world and of life without falling into misery. Proves that life is not pretty but you can tell it beautifully.

Let's be brief

A book to give or to treat yourself to that will delight the most sad souls because at the end of the book they'll know that life if beautiful... nevertheless 

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