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Flesh Hardcover – June 15, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 26 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Review by Serena Agusto-Cox:

savvyverseandwit.com/2012/06/flesh-by-khanh-ha.html

Review

In this dark, violent, and poetic saga, with cinematic vignettes that make it read like a screenplay, characters are not who they seem. While this makes for a thrilling finale, what lingers . . . is Ha's descriptive prose. --Publishers Weekly

Set mostly in turn-of-the-20th-century Hanoi, this debut novel begins and ends with gruesome beheadings. Bearing witness to both executions is Tai, a poor teenage village boy quickly forced into manhood. In an effort to reclaim his betrayed bandit father's severed head and finance an auspicious burial, Tai spends the next year on an odyssey about his father, their troubled family, and his own unsure self. Indentured to a geomancer who sells his contract to a wealthy Chinese merchant, Tai glimpses the backstreet Hanoi life of opium dens, desperate coolies, and the lawless rich and has his first experience of falling in love.... Readers who enjoy epic sagas set in faraway lands will find absorbing satisfaction here. --Library Journal

"Read Flesh to lose yourself in a vividly-described colonial Vietnam, with its poverty and hopelessness, its people’s industrious nature at work to better their lives and the lives of those dear to them, all wrapped up in beautiful prose." --Drey's Library

Flesh, Khanh Ha's debut novel, is almost dreamlike. A dream in that early hours of a hot morning where you are still in between sleeping and waking up. Ha is a talented writer; he does a wonderful job setting the dark, yet poetic, mood and a fine job describing settings in vivid, smells, colorful imagery. --Seattle Post Intelligencer

FLESH brings Vietnam – at around the turn of the last century – to life. Life was hard, and this book does not spare us. The book opens with a scene . . . an execution. Ha's powers of description are good, and we are brought into the scene and witness this act. I would recommend this book. Part of what I (and many of you, I suspect) love about reading is being whisked off to an exotic place for an adventure. And FLESH fills the bill! --LibbyBooksBlog

A lush, poetic tale, takes readers on a journey far beneath the surface of a land most have only glimpsed superficially in clichéd Hollywood films. . . .readers willing to venture off the beaten path to an unfamiliar land will find great pleasure exploring Khanh Ha's —Book Reviews by Elizabeth White

The story is a sensual one. . . . The prose of Khanh Ha’s debut is laden with sensory details that pull readers into multi-dimensional scenes. . . . The outstanding element of this novel is the solid invitation extended to readers, to enter this world which Khanh Ha has created in Flesh.--Buried in Print

This book was really something to read!. . . Somewhere along the way, it broke my heart. . . . The author did not sugar coat this story one bit! It is so unlike anything I have ever read. . . . It blew my mind towards the end and I would love to know what you think!--Mary Bearden (Mary's Cup of Tea Blog)

Unique. The ending was amazing. . . . Ha has the writing skills to make the reader imagine every scene he sets, each mood, every setting. The prose felt poetic at times. Author Khanh Ha is truly a talented writer. I enjoyed the novel and it sits on my shelf as a DARN GOOD READ.—Reading Rendezvous Reviewz

Review

"Flesh Ha, Khanh. Flesh. Black Heron. Set mostly in turn-of-the-20th-century Hanoi, this debut novel begins and ends with gruesome beheadings. Bearing witness to both executions is Tài, a poor teenage village boy quickly forced into manhood. In an effort to reclaim his betrayed bandit father's severed head and finance an auspicious burial, Tài spends the next year on an odyssey about his father, their troubled family, and his own unsure self. Indentured to a geomancer who sells his contract to a wealthy Chinese merchant, Tài glimpses the backstreet Hanoi life of opium dens, desperate coolies, and the lawless rich--and has his first experience of falling in love, which incites his own vengeful violence. VERDICT Written in a cowboyish twang filled with "yup," "ain't," "em," and "gonna"--possibly meant to simulate the vernacular of the day--the novel never quite loses its anachronistic feel. One more edit might have trimmed some of the meandering passages and extraneous characters, but the fast-paced story pushes briskly to the finish. Readers who enjoy epic sagas set in faraway lands will find absorbing satisfaction here.--Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC Library Journal, March 15, 2012"-- LIBRARY JOURNAL

"Vietnam-born Ha's beautifully described yet murkily executed first novel, set in his native country at the turn of the 20th century, opens with an infamous yet respected bandit being beheaded in front of his wife and their two young sons. This beginning casts a pall over the tale as Tai, the eldest son, embarks on a far-reaching journey to retrieve his father's skull, find a suitable burial site, and seek revenge on the man who betrayed his father's trust. Through a series of twists and turns--some more developed than others--Tai trades two years' service to a wealthy entrepreneur for land on which to bury the father's remains. During that time, Tai loses his heart to Xiaoli, an indentured servant working in an opium den, and will do anything--including holding off on vengeance and killing a French soldier--to protect her. In this dark, violent, and poetic saga, with disjointed cinematic vignettes that make it often read like a screenplay, characters are not who they seem. While this makes for a thrilling finale, what lingers more than the somewhat weak plot is Ha's descriptive prose." (May)--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Product details

  • Hardcover : 368 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0930773888
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0930773885
  • Item Weight : 1.25 pounds
  • Product Dimensions : 5.7 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Publisher : Black Heron Press; First Edition, First edition (June 15, 2012)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.0 out of 5 stars 26 ratings