Book Review: Ru by Kim Thuy Translated by Sheila Fischman (Bloomsbury Press, 2012)
When winter comes, I find myself drawn to books with a strong authorial voice that matches my inward thoughts: Swann’s Way, by Marcel Proust; To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf; The Lover, by Marguerite Duras, to name just a few. Joining these is Kim Thuy’s Ru, a recently translated novel that tells the story of a young girl growing up in a fractured Saigon, eventually forced to run with her family all the way to Canada.
Ru, the title of Kim Thuy’s new novel, means lullaby in Vietnamese, the author’s native language, and in Quebec, the author’s second home, the word refers to a small stream, The double-lull of the title quickly becomes a thousand shreds of firecrackers that “coloured the ground red, like the petals of cherry blossoms, or like the blood of the two million soldiers,” as our introduction to our 10-year-old narrator, Nguyen An Tinh, is underway. We’re told it is the Year of the Monkey and, more importantly, the year of the Tet Offensive.
Read the rest of the review, originally published on The Brooklyn Rail.