Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Ru Hardcover – Deckle Edge, International Edition

4 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
Hardcover, Deckle Edge, International Edition
"Please retry"
$24.79 $3.92

The Secret Healer
In the fourteenth century, opportunities for women are limited. But spirited young Madlen can't resist her gift for healing, even if it puts her life in danger. Learn More

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.

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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,101,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
1 Comment 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
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.
Comment 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
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.
2 Comments 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book offered several vignettes in a poetic format that shed light on the stories and lives of the "Boat People" from Vietnam but I didn't find it easy to follow the format (there was no story line) and the sudden changes in time and place that made understanding the characters and the points of their lives difficult to understand.
Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
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.
Read more ›
Comment 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?