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Ru by Kim Thúy
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Ru (2009)

by Kim Thúy

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5634625,317 (3.82)282
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» See also 282 mentions

English (34)  French (6)  Swedish (4)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
This was an interesting book. I'm not entirely sure how it is "supposed" to be read. Is it the story of one family/etcetera or is it a bunch of different people's stories? ( )
  JigmeDatse | Mar 20, 2018 |
Written poetically, insightfully, and honestly. It's a choppy (chronologically speaking,) glimpse into the life of someone who's life was turned upside down by civil unrest and outside oppression and forced to emigrate. It's the story of a refugee, an immigrant, a traveller. Worth the read. ( )
  LDVoorberg | Dec 3, 2017 |
This is a short, poetic book about the author’s journey through life. She tells us about her childhood in Saigon, coming to Quebec with the boat people from Vietnam at ten years old, her family.

At times I thoroughly enjoyed the way she made certain things come alive; for example “.. intensely craving a salad of green papaya with bird chilies that tore your mouth apart, that burned your lips, set fire to your heart.” p.121.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. ( )
  jenn88 | Apr 25, 2017 |
First of, I want to apologize for my poor spelling, but I'm Swedish and dyslexic haha.

I just have to share my thoughts on this writer.

I absolutely love this author and everything she writes.

I was fortunate to go se her talk about her books and the experiences leading up to her writing her story.

It was at nine o'clock on a wednesday morning, at a bookstore in Stockholm.

Kim is whitout a doubt one of the most interesting, personable and humble people I have ever met in my life.

After talking for an hour, that felt like ten minutes, I think we were all more or less in love with her.

I, at once, had to buy all of her books to have them signed while I was there. My friend, who was also there, did the exact same thing. With every person in line, she spoke like we were all her intimate friends, and signed each book with a personalized message in regards to what we spoke to her about.

I therefore got three separate greatings in my books, and so did my friend.

I have never been to a book signing where the author managed to give each and everyone in line such concentrated attention.

This was absolutely worth getting up at seven in the morning to catch a bus to go to her book signing, in pooring rain.

I recomend everyone to read her books because they are beautifully written and very poetic.

She is an absolutely wonderful author! 5 star without a doubt. ( )
  Hessius | Dec 4, 2016 |
Wow. Beautiful.
An elegiac and lyrical autobiographical novel of a family that fled Vietnam in the 1970s. They arrived in Canada, via Malaysian refugee camps, and eventually settled in Quebec.

The story is prefaced with an explanation. "In French, 'ru' means a small stream and, figuratively, a flow, a discharge--of tears, of blood, of money. In Vietnamese, 'ru' means a lullably, to lull.

The narrator was ten years old when 'the History of Vietnam' ended her "role as an extension of my mother." Her name was very similar to her mother's, because she was the sequel to her, she would continue her story. But the events changed their own planned futures and histories. She tells their story from her perspective thirty years later, as a Canadian immigrant who had to adapt to a new country, new languages, new customs. She had to learn how to accommodate these new layers of being-ness within her own identity.

It is not a straight linear narration, but neither does it alway jump back and forth between discrete episodes of time. Instead she shares her memories as part of the flow of her present and past life. Woven throughout is an appreciation of the power and love of family, of ancestors and descendants.

The tale occasionally started to stray toward the territory of sentimentality but fortunately veered away before arrival. It does not dwell or revel in horrors and atrocities. It is simple, yet elegant, and quietly inspiring.

It won Canada's Governor General's Award for French-language fiction last year, and has since won other international awards. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
To risk all on the sum of its parts might seem dangerous, but the material’s innate truth justifies its author’s faith and through skilful assembly a whistle-clean story emerges. And yet, the story matters less than the raw acceptance of its moments, often brutal, occasionally full of beauty, the unexpected glimpses recounted without judgement or sentimentality of a world we know only through hearsay.
 
Thúy's impressionistic approach means the book can feel rudderless, but the stories are poetic and powerful.
added by lkernagh | editThe Guardian, James Smart (Jun 12, 2012)
 
Subtlety of voice and effect is Thúy’s strongest hand. Never is there a sense of false drama or manipulation of pain for easy emotional gain. In strictly human terms, the book’s pivotal balance between endurance and despair is delicately, beautifully realized.
 
Despite some moments of digression and occasional instances of thematic overreach, Ru is a poetic and highly individual exploration of what it can mean to straddle multiple cultures and identities simultaneously.
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kim Thúyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fischman, SheilaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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.
Dedication
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Aux gens du pays.
First words
Je suis venue au monde pendant l'offensive du Têt, aux premiers jours de la nouvelle année du Singe, lorsque les longues chaînes de pétards accrochées devant les maisons explosaient en polyphonie avec le son des mitraillettes.
I came into the world during the Tet offensive, in the early days of the Year of the Monkey, when the long chains of firecrackers draped in front of houses exploded polyphonically along with the sound of machine guns.
Quotations
"la vie est un combat où la tristesse entraine la défaite"
"j'avais oublié que l'amour vient de la tête et non pas du coeur"
We often forget about the existence of all those women who carried Vietnam on their backs while their husbands and sons carried weapons on theirs. We forget them because under their cone-shaped hats they did not look up at the sky...Those women let their sadness grow in the chambers of their hearts. They were so weighed down by all of their grief that they couldn't pull themselves up, couldn't straighten their hunched backs, bowed under the weight of their sorrow. When the men emerged from the jungle and started to walk again along the earthen dikes around their rice fields, the women continued to bear the weight of Vietnam's audible history on their backs. Very often they passed away under that weight, in silence.
But the young waiter reminded me that I couldn't have everything, that I no longer had the right to declare I was Vietnamese because I no longer had their fragility, their uncertainty, their fears. And he was right to remind me.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Ru: In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow - of tears, blood, money.

Ru follows 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.

As an adult, the waters become rough again: now a mother of two, 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 novel that celebrates life in all its wonder: its moments of beauty and sensuality, brutality and sorrow, comfort and comedy.
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A book of rare beauty: Ru is a lullaby of Vietnam and a love letter to a new homeland. Ru: In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow - of tears, blood, and 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, 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.… (more)

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