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Ru Hardcover – Deckle Edge, International Edition

55 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Heather’s Pick
Winner 2011 – Grand prix littéraire Archambault
Winner 2011 – Mondello Prize for Multiculturalism
Winner 2010 – Prix du Grand Public Salon du livre––Essai/Livre pratique
Winner 2010 – Governor General’s Award for Fiction (French-language)
Winner 2010 – Grand Prix RTL-Lire at the Salon du livre de Paris
Shortlist 2012 - Scotiabank Giller Prize
Shortlist 2012 – Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation
LONGLISTED 2013 – Man Asian Literary Prize
LONGLISTED 2014 – International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

"This is an exemplary autobiographical novel. Never is there the slightest hint of narcissism or self-pity. The major events in the fall of Vietnam are painted in delicate strokes, through the daily existence of a woman who has to reinvent herself elsewhere. A tragic journey described in a keen, sensitive and perfectly understated voice."
—Governor General's Literary Award jury citation

“Gloriously, passionately, delicately unique….  A remarkable book; one that has well-earned every note of praise it has received.”
The Chronicle Journal
“Powerful and engaging.... In short entries that read lyrically and poetically—but also powerfully, pungently, and yet gently, dispassionately—Ru blends politics and history, celebration and violence within a young girl’s imaginative experience…. [I]ts hybrid and enchanted voice conjur[es] a love song out of chaos and pain, singing and rilling its simplicities.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“In a series of vignettes which extend from wartime Vietnam to the hospitable precincts of Quebec, Kim Thúy writes with equal delicacy and candor about a childhood marked by horrifying brutality, and the pleasures of ordinary peace. A brave and moving book, bringing lucid insight both to the costs of violence, and elusive processes of psychic survival.”
—Eva Hoffman, author of Lost in Translation

About the Author

KIM THÚY has worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer and restaurant owner. She currently lives in Montreal where she devotes herself to writing.

Sheila Fischman is the award-winning translator of some 150 contemporary novels from Quebec. In 2008 she was awarded the Molson Prize in the Arts. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and a chevalier de l'Ordre national du Québec. She lives in Montreal.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Canada; 1St Edition edition (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307359700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307359704
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,140,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Steven Forth on July 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Not a conventional novel, this book captures the Vietnamese immigrant experience to Montreal in a way that a conventional novel would not. In some ways it is closer to poetry in the precision of its language and observation and the emotional force conveyed.

The story is about much more than Vietnam or being a refugee and Montreal. It is also about being a daughter and a mother. The figure of the narrator's autistic son Henri is threaded through the book. I normally avoid allegorical readings but I could not help think about snow, the linguistics divides in Montreal (where I grew up) and the linguistic tensions in Vancouver (where I now live).

Reading this, strangely, made me feel more at home in Vancouver and drew me back to Montreal - the smell of rotting urban snow, the heat, the collage of sounds up on Mile End.

I read this in Sheila Fischman's excellent translation (Canada owes a huge debt to Sheila Fischman) but enjoyed it so much I will work through it in French as well.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Schwartz on November 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
Kim Thuy was ten years old when she and her family emigrated out of Vietnam to Canada. They spent some time in a camp in Malaysia before boarding a boat to Canada. They ended up settling in Montreal. This book tells Kim's experiences in a series of very lyrical and descriptive little vignettes in this book. Ru's writing is very descriptive and there is a definite undercurrent of wit in the pages of this little book. And the journey isn't in a regular timeline. She slips back and forth from the remote past to the present to the recent past and back and forth. She transports us seamlessly and lyrically thus putting the reader into her different settings as we follow her and her family on this journey. This book was a finalist in the 2012 Giller Prize and it won the Governor General's Literary Award. I don't know if I've ever read prose quite like this. It seemed to put me in a dreamlike state as I read. It's a short novel that doesn't take much time to read, but packed with literary genius.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By vj cruise on December 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
I read the book and read the Amazon reviews. The critical reviews seem to be written by readers who expect fiction in their novels presented in reliable narrative form and are thrown to find reality there instead, presented in the form of the slightly distant observations of oneself as experienced by the traumatized narrator remembering. Such remembrances are short, curt, their pain held somewhat at arms length, gulped in short takes so as not to let them overwhelm or reduce one to incoherence. The author is making a valiant attempt to convey the unspeakable, unthinkable and unimaginably painful, and render that experience in a way as close and faithful to the reliving of those traumas as possible. It tries to do justice to the unimaginable facts with truth in the form too. This is not a "story" given to three acts, plot points that will bring you back from the refrigerator or let you walk away to get a sandwich. Her quiet prose is amazing and devastating and will rivet you to the page.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Diethelm Thom on February 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Kim Thuy wrote this book when she was over 40. As a survivor of the boat people in Canada she lived out her American Dream and now thinks back to her upper middle class childhood in Saigon and life there, to the sufferings under the victorious Communists, to her life in the refugee camps in Malaysia and how she was welcomed in Canada, and finally to her return to Vietnam as an Americanized Vietnamese woman. Small wonder that the contrasts she experienced overpower her and explain her pathos.

What is characteristic of the book is the series of short sensually remembered scenes of the various phases of her life, which often flare up like lurid flashlights and are presented in non-chronological order. I think that these fragments of memory in their strangeness account for the appeal of the book - scenes like these can only be lived through in extreme real situations, you cannot make them up. There is no coherent overall picture. The writer gives herself over to her memories and reflexions, but what is missing is something like a critical or individual voice. In a way she stays on the surface, which makes for a certain attractiveness, but also marks the limits of her report. You get an idea of her life - particularly if you already happen to know the country and its history - but these impressions will not be left on your mind as a coherent and critical tale. The narrator again and again kindles new straw fires of her memories, sometimes they lighten up unbelievable or grotesque scenes, but I am afraid that these isolated impressions will also quickly vanish like straw fires.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
Timeless in its themes and completely of the moment in its narrative voice, Kim Thuy's Ru reveals the innermost thoughts of one of Vietnam's "boat people," in the process creating a vibrant (and prize-winning) novel that feels much more like a memoir than fiction. The main character, Nguyen An Tinh, whose life closely parallels that of the author, is seen in a series of vignettes, presented in the "random" order in which she appears to have remembered them. This narrative style allows the author to move around through time and memory, while also allowing the reader to share, for short moments, personalized events that would otherwise feel alien in time and place.

The action, often dramatic, just as often reflects the quiet, loving experiences of a family's life; descriptions of hardship and deplorable, even repulsive, conditions are balanced by the author's ability to see beauty in small, even delicate, moments. The shocking contrasts between Nguyen's privileged life in Saigon and her subsistence level existence upon her first arrival in Canada are presented with complete honesty and so broad a perspective that Nguyen is able to face her new life without rancor, resentment, or any sign of self-pity, and that becomes this novel's biggest strength.

Time skips back and forth between Nguyen's early life in Vietnam, her escape to Malaysia, her arrival in Canada, and her adulthood, as she remembers events in which people she knows experience life-changing events. A doctor wanted by the communists in Saigon buys places for each of his five children on separate boats out of Vietnam, hoping that some of them will survive.
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