MãnBook - 2015 | Vintage Canada edition
Mãn has three mothers: the one who gives birth to her in wartime, the nun who plucks her from a vegetable garden, and her beloved Maman, who becomes a spy to survive. Seeking security for her grown daughter, Maman finds Mãn a husband--a lonely Vietnamese restaurateur who lives in Montreal. Thrown into a new world, Mãn discovers her natural talent as a chef. Gracefully she practices her art, with food as her medium. She creates dishes that are much more than sustenance for the body: they evoke memory and emotion, time and place, and even bring her customers to tears. Mãn is a mystery--her name means "perfect fulfillment," yet she and her husband seem to drift along, respectfully and dutifully. But when she encounters a married chef in Paris, everything changes in the instant of a fleeting touch, and Mãn discovers the all-encompassing obsession and ever-present dangers of a love affair. Full of indelible images of beauty, delicacy and quiet power, Mãn is a novel that begs to be savoured for its language, its sensuousness and its love of life.
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A great many books in French or English had been confiscated during the years of political chaos. We would never know the fate of those books, but some did survive, in pieces. We would never know what road whole pages had travelled, only to end up in the hands of merchants who used them to wrap bread, a catfish or a bunch or water spinach.
When Luc’s gaze was on me, I had that same impression of exclusion, where the things around me disappeared and the space between us contained my whole life.
Lan had always behaved as if she were invisible, to avoid intrusive eyes. She carried an umbrella in her purse to hide from the sun, snow, rain and people, and indoors she would disappear behind an open book.
success attracts thunderbolts, which was why particularly beautiful newborns were given hideous names. Parents would call them such things as “dwarf” or “gnome” or “corkscrew” (a reference to a pig’s tail), and families tricked the gods by referring to them as ugly, loathsome, forgettable. Otherwise, they’d have attracted the attention of jealous wandering spirits, capable of casting evil spells.
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