Mãn by Kim Thúy is a slip of a novel but looks can be deceptive – it’s a rich, melancholy tale about belonging.
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 scarifies all that she can for her daughter.
‘In the distance, in the warm light, she saw me, and I became her daughter. She gave me a second birth by bringing me up in a big city, an anonymous elsewhere, behind a schoolyard, surrounded by children who envied me for having a mother who taught school and sold iced bananas.’ Continue reading
Recently, a member of my book group called me a ‘book pusher’. I feigned disbelief – “I don’t push books onto people!” I exclaimed. But I do. I do it all the time. Once I’ve read a really good book, I want everyone around me to share the joy.
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new ‘top ten’ challenge is posted – anyone can join in. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I Read in 2012. Or, in other words, the Top Ten Books I’ve Been Pushing on People This Year.
1. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach – my favourite book for the year.
2. Of a Boy by Sonya Hartnett – this book will never leave me.
3. The Forrests by Emily Perkins – unusual and very special.
You know that clever little feature on your Kindle that lets you highlight favourite passages? Mine went into overdrive when I was reading the utterly brilliant Ru by Kim Thúy.
At ten years old, Kim Thúy fled Vietnam on a boat with her family, leaving behind a grand house and the many less tangible riches of their home country: the ponds of lotus blossoms, the songs of soup-vendors. The family arrived in Quebec, where they found clothes at the flea market, and mattresses with actual fleas.
There’s a delicacy and an innocence to Thúy’s words that is quite simply, breathtaking.
“Love, as my son Pascal knows it, is defined by the number of hearts drawn on a card or by how many stories about dragons are told by flashlight under a down-filled comforter. I have to wait a few more years till I can report to him that in other times, other places, parents showed their love by willingly abandoning their children, like the parents of Tom Thumb.” Continue reading