Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ru by Kim Thuy

I'm not sure I understood all of this book, but I still enjoyed it.  It read a bit more like poetry than prose - the chapters were very short, some only a few lines and the language was tight though cryptic at times.  I think praise is owing to the translator (the original was French) - it could not have been easy to translate such unusual writing and retain the author's voice.

Ru is about a woman who, as a young girl, immigrated to Quebec from Vietnam - one of the boat people.  The book jumps around between her life as a pampered very young child, prior to troubles hitting Saigon, to the family's escape, with their valuables sewn into their clothes, teeth and plastic jewellery, on a crowded boat where everyone was seasick and feared pirates or other disasters, to her first year or so in Granby, Quebec to the present where she is the mother of two sons, one autistic.

We only get little snippets of each part of the characters life, but enough to feel how the family was destroyed and built itself up again in a new country.  At times I was a bit confused about what was happening and who all the characters were as the language was so condensed.  I could have used a bit more explanation of the family tree.  But all in all this did not take a long time to read and I was captivated by the language which kept me going even when I wasn't sure who I was reading about.  I don't strongly recommend this book, but wouldn't avoid it either.

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