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Ru Paperback – Sep 6 2012
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WINNER 2015 - Canada Reads
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
Longlisted 2013 – Man Asian Literary Prize
Longlisted 2014 – International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
Nominated 2012 – Amazon.ca First Novel Award
Shortlist 2012 - Scotiabank Giller Prize
Shortlist 2012 – Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation
“This is one of the millions of stories of migration in this country, the story of a woman migrating from Vietnam to Canada . . . It is harrowing, beautiful, and has compressed, perfect writing. This is the story of the future of Canada.”
—Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, defending Ru at Canada Reads 2015
"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
From the Hardcover edition.
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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 (...Read more ›
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.
Towards the end of the book, looking back on her earlier life, the narrator muses "...after only thirty years I already recognize our old selves only through fragments, through scars, through glimmers of light." It is these fragments, the scars and the glimmers of light that Kim Thuy has made the central theme of her book. Unusual in structure and beautifully, often lyrically written, the author's loosely connected vignettes paint an impressionistic, yet intimate portrait of the heroine, her family, her country and what it means to feel connected and uprooted at the same time. Evocative in her depiction of people and places, recalling memories and bringing out associations across time and space, the heroine recounts events and circumstances, essential or negligible, sometimes stories within stories. Like the workings of memory in our brains, nothing is told chronologically; much is only hinted at and, on superficial reading, not developed in depth. Connections between vignettes often hinge on one thought, one colour, one expression...Read more ›
Random House of Canada|September 6, 2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-307-35970-4
Ru. In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow--of tears, blood, money. Kim Thuy's Ru is literature at its most crystalline: the flow of a life on the tides of unrest and on to more peaceful waters. In vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit, we are carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec. There, the young girl feels the embrace of a new community, and revels in the chance to be part of the American Dream. As an adult, the waters become rough again: now a mother of two sons, she must learn to shape her love around the younger boy's autism. Moving seamlessly from past to present, from history to memory and back again, Ru is a book that celebrates life in all its wonder: its moments of beauty and sensuality, brutality and sorrow, comfort and comedy.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book but felt it was somehow `unfinished'. I really would have preferred to of had more detail in each section. I felt it lacked in detail and would have enhanced the story greatly if the author had of delved into the lives and experiences more deeply.
I can only imagine though the difficulties and challenges one would encounter being a refugee coming from Vietnam to Quebec. Talk about a culture shock!
Trying to raise an autistic child in a completely new world would be difficult at best and would present a myriad of challenges all on their own, challenges we probably couldn't even begin to fathom, but the author handled it with grace.
Overall, Ru was a most enjoyable experience.
Most recent customer reviews
Beautifully written. A tribute to the human spirit and to survival. Thank you for reminding me of all that I am truly grateful for.Published 1 month ago by Ann Hedberg
I really enjoyed this book. We will be discussing it at my book club.Published 2 months ago by Eleanor Fraser
Timely reminder of the obstacles immigrants and refugees must overcome.Published 4 months ago by KarenL
As someone whose youth was shadowed by the war in Vietnam, I was curious to know about something I'd only read in media. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Cathryn Wellner
I loved the writing style. I felt as if the narrator was having a personal conversation with me.Published 5 months ago by Catherine Watson