A Novel

Book - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:
M 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 M a husband , a lonely Vietnamese restaurateur who lives in Montreal. Thrown into a new world, M discovers her natural talent as a chef.
Publisher: Toronto :, Random House Canada,, 2014
ISBN: 9780345813794
Branch Call Number: F THU
Characteristics: 139 pages ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Feb 17, 2018

"At that precise moment, I knew that I would always remain standing, that he would never think of making room for me beside him because that was the sort of man he was, alone and lonely." And so sets the stage for the arranged marriage of Ma'n. The story ebbs and flows with what is initially cautious life which blossoms like an exotic flower. As other reviewers have noted, the voices of some characters are conspicuously absent. However it is, and remains Ma'n's story, a story of hunger that food, regardless of how exquisitely prepared cannot satiate. Like any good story, it answers some questions and raises others that we will never know the answer to. A lovely read.

SCL_Heather Aug 24, 2017

After the immense success of the multi-award winning novel Ru, a book inspired by her own life, Kim Thúy’s second novel Mãn shows she’s no one-book wonder. Mãn, both the title of the book and the name of its main character, follows the rearing of Mãn in Vietnam until she is married to a lonely Vietnamese restaurateur who lives in Montreal. Mãn’s new life is one of contentment: she finds joy in the kitchen, in her children and her female friends. As Mãn’s culinary career begins to take off, new opportunities lead to true passion when she meets Luc, a fellow chef who is also married. Luc ignites Mãn’s desire and introduces her to the profound and intense sensations that come with an amorous love affair.

Thuy’s writing is a sparse and poetic reflection on how love and food are inextricably entwined. in less than 150 pages she beautifully captures the conflict and emotion that characterizes many immigrant women’s experiences.

lydia_holmes221 Aug 07, 2017

Thuy's prose is like a kiss on the forehead, like prose you come home to.

This book is about food and the power food has over us. It's Marcel Proust's scene on madeleines, if the prose was sparse and exactly what it needed to be. It's about history, the Vietnam War, immigration, nostalgia and a passion for life.

Thuy's writing is delicate and powerful and her sparse prose demonstrates to me that you don't always have to write linepar plots, you can instead write beautiful, meaningful pieces and string them together like paper cranes.

Jul 11, 2017

My French is rusty, so I read this going back and forth between the original and the English translation. Clearly I'm no expert, but I found the translation irritating. If you're bilingual, check out the discussion of "J’ai échappé mon cœur" which is omitted from the English text. As for the novel, this is a story about a woman in a placid, passionless arranged marriage who is tempted to stray, and yet her husband is barely there as a character. What makes him tick? What makes the marriage worth saving or abandoning? What are the consequences? Despite some beautiful passages, the ending felt abrupt and unsatisfying.

Jan 30, 2017

Moving, clear and concise. I find that Thuy's writing, while written as a Vietnamese Canadian, carries a humanity that transcends her personal experiences and resonates with me as a female in the way we compartmentalize our experiences and emotions. I also enjoy the format of her books, the fact that they are beautifully written and concise without ever being verbose. It sets her apart as a gifted writer to be able to communicate so briefly and effectively.

Jun 17, 2016

When I picked up Ma`n I thought it couldn't be as good as Kim Thuy's debut novel, Ru. Well I was wrong. This book as rich in the culture of Vietnam and the vietnamese people was also a poignant love story. The characters and description are vivid and I was drawn to them enough to keep reading till I'd finished. I certainly look forward to Thuy's next book.

Jun 13, 2016

Beautiful writing, elegant translation, subtle and delicate story.

Sep 02, 2015

Slim, thoughtful, a meditation on life and love. This is the kind of book you read quickly but that stays with you a long time after.

May 21, 2015

Certainly written in very beautiful and dreamy prose. But I found character development to be minimal, so much so that I couldn't relate to or care about any of them. I wanted to like this novel, but was just disappointed.

ksoles Jan 01, 2015

A long poem? A collection of vignettes? A novella? Whatever its classification, the unique format of "Mãn" quickly emerges as its most striking feature. Indeed, each chapter of this slim volume reads like poetry, complete with unobtrusive headings in both English and Vietnamese. Despite their brevity, segments contain rich descriptions of tastes, textures and personalities.

Mãn does not get its impetus from plot. The protagonist, an Vietnamese orphan whose name means “perfect fulfillment," marries a Vietnamese-Canadian and moves to Montreal. There, she works in his restaurant, discovers her own passion for cooking, grows the business, gains a reputation as a skilled cook, travels to France and meets a man.

It sounds simple, yet much of the story lies in what remains unknown. We never learn the names of Mãn’s husband or children. We never even witness a conversation between her and her husband. We never hear her mother’s story; Thúy leaves much unsaid about the history of Vietnam and its people. Instead, she hints at tragedies: the moment in which Mãn’s mother sees her father for the last time and doesn’t speak to him in order to protect him; a French man named Luc who carries an unremembered childhood in a Vietnamese orphanage, years about which his mother refuses to speak.

Kim Thúy makes readers hungry, not just for the Vietnamese food that Mãn cooks when she arrives in Canada, but also for home, for comfort and for the familiar. Her writing evokes a longing that anyone who has lived and loved in more than one place will recognize. Thúy neither teaches nor preaches; she offers a narrow window into the possibilities that shape a single life.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Jul 11, 2017

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.

Jul 11, 2017

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.

Jul 11, 2017

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.

Jul 11, 2017

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.

Jan 18, 2015

"I had all of eternity because time is infinite when we don't expect anything."

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at RPL

To Top