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Ru Paperback – Deckle Edge, Sep 6 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (Sept. 6 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307359719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307359711
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #23,134 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3.9 out of 5 stars
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By sean s. TOP 500 REVIEWER on Sept. 12 2012
Format: Paperback
Kim Thuy is a writer based in Montreal. Ru, her first novel, won the Governor General's Literary Award in its original French.

Ru is an autobiographical novel that recounts the author's flight as a refugee from Vietnam to Quebec as a young girl, and the culture shocks she experiences as she adjusts to her new homeland.

It is somewhat misleading to label this book a novel, because it is really halfway between a novel - a sustained linear narrative - and poetry - a collection of insightful, finely-crafted and evocative images.

This beautiful book - the hardcover edition is as attractive physically as is the writing - opens with the explanation that "In French, ru means a small stream and, figuratively, a flow, a discharge - of tears, of blood, of money. In Vietnamese, ru means a lullaby, to lull."

And this double-meaning is in fact very appropriate for this book which flows between cultures, between times, between emotions.

The pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus observed that "you cannot step in the same river twice" - in other words, there is no being, only becoming - a sentiment conveyed perfectly in this volume.

Thuy recounts the flow from a family life of privilege in Saigon to misery as refugees, the harbinger of impending change sensed by her mother:

"My mother waged her first battles later, without sorrow. She went to work for the first time at the age of thirty-four, first as a cleaning lady, then at jobs in plants, factories, restaurants. Before, in the life that she had lost, she was the eldest daughter of her prefect father. All she did was settle arguments between the French-food chef and the Vietnamese-food chef in the family courtyard (...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Janet Babins TOP 100 REVIEWER on June 7 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kim Thuy's Ru won The Governor General's Award for Fiction and was Finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Ru was exquisitely translated by the award-winning Sheila Fischman.

In Vietnamese Ru means lullaby. In French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow of tears, blood and money. This book is an autobiographical novel.

The young girl is the narrator of this story. Her name is Nguyen An Tinh with a dot under the i. The name means "peaceful Interior" in Vietnamese. Her mother has the same name but without the dot and her name means "peaceful environment". The History of Vietnam flung the accents of their names into the water, when it took her and her family across the Gulf of Siam thirty years ago. The young girl was born during the Tet Offensive in 1968, as the child of an upper class family in Saigon. When she was ten years old, she and her family emigrated out of Vietnam via Malaysian refugee camps, then boarding a boat to Canada. They arrived at Mirabel Airport in Quebec. She spoke very little. She is mute. On the boat, she and her family learned how to travel very light. One gentleman had no luggage, not even a small bag with warm clothes. He had on everything he owned. He had diamonds embedded in his molars, gold on his teeth and American dollars stuffed in his anus. Women had American dollars stuffed in their sanitary napkins. She had an acrylic bracelet, pink like the gums of the dental plate it had been made from, filled with diamonds. Her parents had also put diamonds in the collars of her brothers' shirts.

It is in Quebec, at the Sainte-Famille elementary school that a teacher named Jeanne embraced her nine Vietnamese students. The young girl called the teacher "our good fairy".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By katalinilona on April 13 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book was coherent and telling the story of the protagonist in a poetic style and at the same time letting me have an insight into the life of a family coming to Canada from Vietnam.

There is nothing in the book I disliked and I especially liked her style of writing, which flowed and was poetic.

I would recommend it to readers of any age, who enjoy lyrical writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Pratt on April 26 2013
Format: Paperback
I absolutely loved this book. I wish that it had been longer, though. I'm sure there were a lot more stories that she could have added about her escape from Saigon and subsequent move to Quebec. Hope she writes a sequel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Anastasiades on April 11 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book opens one"s eyes and hearts to the plight of our Vietnamese immigrants. It would be a perfect gift to those who moan about their supposed hardships. Here are a people who lost all and suffered terrible hardships, who came to our beautiful country with nothing, They had to learn a new language and they prospered.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ev on March 29 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is beautifully written, but for me it merely scratched the surface of the story. I wanted to hear more details. Each chapter was just a hint and left me wanting to read more about the Vietnam Nam war and the personal stories of those who managed to survive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rodge TOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 13 2013
Format: Hardcover
Ru is as good as it's title's promise, a beautiful meditation that never loses its haunting effect, even as it travels from sorrow to triumph to despair. This is a fine, original styled work that, coming in under 200 pages, is nowhere near overlong, and is far from self-indulgent. Thuy lets her work do the talking and the effect is a panorama of experience of those who escaped Vietnam and those who did not.
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