A Novel

Book - 2012
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The tragic story of a young Vietnamese girl is relayed in vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit. The reader journeys 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 protagonist flees the embrace of her new immigrant community and revels in the chance to be part of Western culture. Moving seamlessly from past to present, from history to memory and back again, Ru celebrates the facets of the human experience - moments of beauty, brutality, comedy and sorrow.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Random House Canada, c2012
ISBN: 9780307359704
Branch Call Number: F THU
Characteristics: 141 p. ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Fischman, Sheila


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Jan 20, 2021

Not a novel by any means. You might like it if you like poetry. Not my favorite writing style.

Nov 09, 2020

A lovely, lyrical story of changes in riches and situation. The protagonist goes from living a wealthy life in Vietnam, to being a refugee, to finding herself in another land where customs, language and life styles differed from everything she was familiar with.
These vignettes show resiliency, human spirit and courage. Lovely story.

Aug 16, 2019

Touchant et frappant. Ce récit d'une jeune réfugiée vietnamienne et de ses souvenirs du Vietnam et d'ici sont parfois cocasses parfois tellement cruels et tristes. Ce roman nous ouvre la réalité sur des concepts dont on ne pourrait même pas imaginer l'ampleur.

May 07, 2019

"Ru" by Kim Thuy is a novel in fragmentary form. Brief chapters or vignettes look back on the life of a woman: from affluent to refugee to immigrant. At times, I was not sure exactly what was meant or even what was happening. Yet, being more evocative than detailed, Thuy creates an impression of events and experiences that seem all the more real. Very good read.

Mar 15, 2018

If this is so beautifully written in translation, then it must really sing in its original French! This is a poignant story from riches to refugee to resettlement. It unfolds in fragments, dreamlike, each connected to the last by a single thread or idea. By the end we readers experience An Tinh’s story (which is probably the author’s as well), with all its hardships and it beauty: we experience her story through poetry. It is at once both removed from the experience of the horror of war and right in the midst of it. Worth one or more reads.

Aug 24, 2017

I found this fictionalized memoir, written in little snatches with only the vaguest chronology, to be quite moving. The word 'ru' means lullaby in vietnamese, and represents the life in Vietnam as seen through a child's eyes - carefree and privileged, lulling all into a false sense of security. In french 'ru' means a small stream or flow, which is what we follow as Nguyen An Tinh and her family flee to become part of the great wave of boat people to make their way to Canada and other safe countries. Through Thuy's spare, and dreamy, writing we follow the course of An Tinh's life as she comes to terms with her Vietnam heritage and the Canadian culture overlay she must live with. Not feeling truly one or the other, she must meld the two into something that reflects who she is. I got the sense that she was not really successful, and that at the end she remains outside of life, an observer that might never find her identity. I enjoyed this book for the feel of the story, for the sense of ru that came with the narrative. The disjointed chronology did not bother me, nor did the vague hints of An Tinh's life. If you want action with a beginning, middle and end, and things spelled out for you, this is not the book for you.

Jul 02, 2017

There is so much to unpack in this memoir: leaving, loss, learning. The author remembers her childhood in Vietnam and later in Canada, interspersed with stories of her adult years in both countries. She doesn't attempt to reconcile or justify these recollections. Most of the stories are fragments, unapologetically leaving out beginnings and endings, creating more questions than providing answers.

Mar 26, 2017

The format of very brief vignettes on a single page with much white space made me think of a photo album. As each snapshot captured a moment in time of the first-person narrator’s life in Viet Nam, in a Malaysian refugee camp, and as an immigrant to Montreal, Canada, I could see the cruelty, misery and the beauty. But for me the erratic sequencing and the jumbled memories did not gel as a whole picture. Although Thuy’s prose is poetically lyrical with dramatic imagery, a quality that usually endears a book to me, it wasn’t enough.

Jul 07, 2016

Ru is my 2nd 2015 Canada Reads book and it deserved the standing and appreciation it received in that venue. More like a memoir than a novel, it was 'simply poetic.' This was a very different style of describing one's life experiences, but I liked the brevity, short chapters and once I settled into the style was able to follow the thread of continuity.

Mar 01, 2016

What a powerful little story. Every immigrant will be able to relate to this novel which describes a Vietnamese Boat Person's move to Canada and settling down. It is a poignant description of her childhood and the stark contrast between the life in Vietnam and the new life in Canada.

It is when she goes back to Vienam that she realizes that "the American dream had made me believe I could have everything." She felt the American dream had made her "weightier, more substantial."

Every page in the book is philosophical. One example is the vignette where in talking about one of the persons in her boat who did not make it, Thuy says, "He'd retraced his steps to fetch the gold taels he'd hidden in the boat's fuel tank. Perhaps the taels made him sink, perhaps they were too heavy to carry. Or else the current swallowed him as punishment for looking back, or to remind us that we must never regret what we've left behind."

I would recommend this book wholeheartedly.

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Apr 16, 2020

American slaves were able to sing about their sorrow in the cotton fields.
Those women let their sadness grow in the chambers of their hearts ( writing of the Vietnamese women in the rice paddies during the war)

Aug 17, 2015

During our first winters, we didn’t know that every garment had its season, that we mustn’t simply wear all the clothes we owned. When we were cold, without discriminating, without knowing the different categories, we would put one garment over another, layer by layer, like the homeless.

Aug 17, 2015

Like Canada, Vietnam had its own two solitudes. The language of North Vietnam had developed in accordance with its political, social and economic situation at the time, with words to describe how to shoot down an airplane with a machine gun set up on a roof, how to use monosodium glutamate to make blood clot more quickly, how to spot the shelters when the sirens go off. Meanwhile, the language of the South had created words to express the sensation of Coca-Cola bubbles on the tongue, terms for naming spies, rebels, Communist sympathizers on the streets of the South, names to designate the children born from wild nights with GIs.

Aug 17, 2015

When Marie-France, my teacher in Granby, asked me to describe my breakfast, I told her: soup, vermicelli, pork. She asked me again, more than once, miming waking up, rubbing her eyes and stretching. But my reply was the same, with a slight variation: rice instead of vermicelli. The other Vietnamese children gave similar descriptions. She called home then to check the accuracy of our answers with our parents. As time went on, we no longer started our day with soup and rice. To this day, I haven’t found a substitute.

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