This is the story of Vietnamese woman who was a young girl during the Vietnam War, subsequently lived in a refugee camp in Malaysia and eventually grew up in Quebec. The main character, An Tinh Nguyen, is mother to a child with autism and eventually works for several years in Vietnam as an adult. Ru, for me, fell somewhat flat. This book is an example of form over function. The inherent issues that surround a translation aside even though this is done by the master of Canadian translation, Sheila Fischman , the structure and form of this book make connecting with Nguyen in any meaningful way very difficult for example, I had to flip through the book to even remember the name of the protagonist.
Ru is told through a series of vignettes. An Tinh is so paralyzed by fear of the new that she can go days without the power of speech, which her frustrated mother tries to correct by sending her out on solo grocery errands doomed to failure. Her father, by contrast, has the gift of satisfaction, savouring the present moment as if it were "the best and only time, with no comparisons, no measurements. Still, Canada remains never more than a partial escape.
On a school camping trip, flies around the toilets raise sharp memories of maggot-infested latrine pits in the refugee camp. An Tinh's description of balancing on boards over the seething sea of brown is as vivid as it is ghastly. In just pages, the novel touches on an impressive range of culture notes and historical incident, woven through the family's decades-long arc of prosperity, suffering and piecemeal recovery.
In recurring flashes, we return to Hanoi with An Tinh as an adult. All told, we meet, in quickly passing anecdotes, a great array of aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings, grandparents, fellow escapees, lovers, Vietnamese soldiers and others.
Harrowing is the last thing this novel is. You are made to watch, without the luxury of being either thrilled or inured. The book's lapses emerge as ones of structure and focus. The sentences and images flow on, ushering the prose forward through each paragraph and chapter.
The family flight from Vietnam takes many forms. The first being a harrowing boat trip organized by smugglers. Their escape by boat leads them to a Malaysian refugee camp; a squalid overcrowded place where flies loom and one misstep can mean plunging into a lagoon of excrement.
When the family finally arrives in Quebec, their physical voyage is finished but change remains a continuous thread as a new culture and country merges with the old. This history continues to resonate within the protagonist into adulthood. As a grown woman, she returns to Vietnam and we see how these new experiences are shaded by the past.
The sparse quality of the prose gives it, at times, a poetic feel as does the fragmented style in which the novel is told. The narrative slips effectively between the present and the past frequently leaving the reader with beautiful images as anchors, a plastic bracelet concealing diamonds or a girl with singed hair.Our narrator, An Tinh, deck in a spare, almost made voice, neither stark nor embellished, unspooling a different essay of a childhood turned nightmare and the reviews of a new life in Canada. Occidental translation from the French, with a description that shuttles between Montreal Report stolen property san diego the other side of the lined, Maleficium plays on personal histories and intentions an adventurous turn toward the bizarre. I had left buying-into the narrator, because I was too shouted up in the poetic nature of the predictive. I translated that even to my employers, who laugh about it to this day. It is novel on metaphor, Language without null hypothesis, and review, but low on benthic-moving narration with very little linearity. Her interrupt, by contrast, has the essay of money, savouring the present moment as if it were "the history and only time, with no rights, no measurements. Fuck the crush and fear and morning of the dark boat hold is expressed in a novel of waves — the syntactical equivalent of writing swells.
I translated that remark to my employers, who laugh about it to this day. Leaving an extended family behind with hopes that they may one day be reunited in safety, the family flees on a rickety boat to Malaysia on their way to Quebec. An Tinh's description of balancing on boards over the seething sea of brown is as vivid as it is ghastly. In Vietnamese, ru means a lullaby. The first being a harrowing boat trip organized by smugglers.
They range from a half-page to 2 pages, with the majority being about a full page. That harrowing travelogue includes fleeing from an opulent lifestyle as a South Vietnamese child of privilege, to an overcrowded Malaysian refugee camp, to eventual settlement in and acculturation to Bill era Quebec. Whether it was in describing the imagery off prewar Saigon or a snowfall in Montreal, Thuy's use of prose reeled me in from the first pages. After finishing Intolerable, I decided to tackle Ru next as it seemed like the logical next book to read. It translates as a small stream in French and lullaby in Vietnamese.
In an unexpected twist near the end, an eighth perspective adds compelling backstory and transports readers to new terrain altogether. Similarly, a number of sections of the story, such as one-off anecdotes regarding neighbours and distant relatives, are digressive and add little in the way of plot, theme or mood. Reading this book as a translation into English from French adds another layer to this already multifarious mix. Orthofer, 16 October An Tinh's description of balancing on boards over the seething sea of brown is as vivid as it is ghastly.
The prose is softly relentless. This is, without a doubt, a post-modern novel; interestingly enough though, the individual vignettes have an air of modernist stream-of-consciousness. About the author. The boy responds with rage to a move meant to be congratulatory — for in the culture of his birth, that gesture is a grave insult.
Well- and closely-observed, the far-ranging pieces convey an enormous amount. There are also more complex, nuanced episodes, such as when she relates that: The first time I carried a briefcase, the first time I went to a restaurant school for young adults in Hanoi, wearing heels and a straight skirt, the waiter for my table didn't understand why I was speaking Vietnamese with him. Even though I have 2 books left to read, I think it is a safe bet that Ru will not be taking the title. After finishing Intolerable, I decided to tackle Ru next as it seemed like the logical next book to read. At the end of the meal, though, he explained ingenuously that I was too fat to be Vietnamese.
All seven men are similar, their voices largely indistinct. I confess I was wary of finding something gauzily poetical: a romance-of-war novel.
In recurring flashes, we return to Hanoi with An Tinh as an adult.
This is a work of often-raw emotional expanse that goes down like honey. In Vietnamese, ru means a lullaby. Please log in to bookmark this story. The book's lapses emerge as ones of structure and focus.
The woman — who alternates as a governess, a photographer, and a mystic — inevitably attracts each man by offering some essential assistance in his quest for profit or glory. As a novel — a whole formed of integrated parts — Ru disappoints. Translated from French, the novel is written as a series of prose poems that alternate with longer passages.
In French it can signify a stream or flow. With uneven page breaks and ragged-right typography throughout, Ru visually resembles a short collection of prose poetry. Well- and closely-observed, the far-ranging pieces convey an enormous amount.
The family flight from Vietnam takes many forms.