1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"There is always the morning...",
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: PETITE FILLE DE MONSIEUR LINH (LA) (Mass Market Paperback)Monsieur Linh softly sings this lullaby to his granddaughter's ear as she is snuggled next to him on their thin mattress on the cold cement floor. Memories of a happier life back home keep the fragile old man awake and let him forget the cold and the unfriendly surroundings in the new country... This beautifully crafted, subtle yet intensely imagined story of refugee life and its bewilderment, memories of loves lost and the power of friendship found, is one of the most deeply touching stories I have read in a long time.
Monsieur Linh, arriving on a refugee boat from somewhere in Asia, having lost his beloved son and daughter-in-law during a recent war, is feeling lonely and confused, without the language of the new country, where everything is foreign to him. The contrast between the village left behind and the big city of the present could not be starker. "This place doesn't have any of the smells ..." he reminisces, recalling the beauty of his homeland. His only consolation is his baby girl, 'Sang diû', who he saved and who is now his sole reason for living. The conditions in the refugee dormitory, the hostility of the other refugees, painted with a few skilful and precise strokes, form the necessary background tableau for Monsieur Linh's loneliness and isolation. The old man, with 'Sang diû' in his arm, wanders all day in the nearby streets and the park, worried about crossing one of the wide highways full of cars. Then, one day, resting on a bench, he meets Monsieur Bark, a large quiet man with features that make Monsieur Linh look and feel even smaller.
Over time, even without a common language, the communication blossoms between the two men. Friendship can be expressed through quiet regards and understated gestures, such a touch on the shoulder. Their friendship grows, literally beyond words. In Claudel's perceptive and delicate language, the reader listens in on the two unspoken or spoken monologues that the two friends can only interpret from the changing sounds in the voice or expression in the face. We learn of their backgrounds, their happiness and deep sorrows that brought the two unlikely friends together. One day, however, Monsieur Linh is taken away from the refugee camp to a new residence in another part of the big city...
Philippe Claudel, award winning author of numerous novels such as (translated into English) Brodeck: A novel and By a Slow River: A Novel (Les Ames Grises), both outstanding and deeply affecting novels, has created with LA PETITE FILLE DE MONSIEUR LINH a masterwork in its subtle and tender portrayal of two human souls, their pain, and the healing power of love and friendship. His graceful lyrical language adds emotional depth and a fable-like reality to the story. Currently unavailable in English LA PETITE FILLE DE MONSIEUR LINH is, according to amazon.com scheduled for publication in the spring of 2011. [Friederike Knabe]
Location: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
Top Reviewer Ranking: 25