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Ru (2009)

de Kim Thúy

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
7245324,470 (3.82)285
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.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 53 (següent | mostra-les totes)
With #WITmonth 2021 drawing to a close, I'm going to allow myself a little bragging: this post is the 100th review of a Woman Writer in Translation on my ANZ LitLovers blog.
(To see the graphs, you need to visit my blog).
It's true that I've written nearly three times as many reviews of male writers in translation (281, as of August 2021), skewed somewhat by my project to read and review all 20 novels in Zola's Rougon-Macquart cycle, and by my fondness for classic Russian Lit and the choices of the Indonesian Book Club. It's also influenced by my project to read all the Nobel Prize winning novelists, to plod on with 1001 Books using what's already on my TBR, and by contributing to Shadow Juries. But mostly it's a case of what comes my way and looks interesting. Most of the translations on my shelves are there because I read an enticing review by Stu at Winston's Dad: like me, he doesn't read to an agenda, he reads what comes his way and looks interesting. Still, I'm pleased with the upward trend for #WITmonth over time, and I've certainly read some interesting books amongst those 100.

Ru, the debut novel of prolific Canadian author Kim Thúy was a bestseller and won a swag of prizes both in its initial French release in 2009 and in an English translation by Sheila Fischman in 2012. It won the Governor General's Award for French-language fiction at the 2010 Governor General's Awards, and was a Scotiabank Giller Prize Nominee (2012), which is when I became aware of it through a review by the late Kevin from Canada., It was a Man Asian Literary Prize Nominee in the same year.

At only 153 pages, many of which are only half-page fragments, it's more of a novella than a novel. It's a work of autofiction and these fragments frame aspects of Thúy's life and relationships. As a child, she fled Vietnam by boat with her parents and spent a few months in a Malaysian refugee camp before settling in Canada in 1979 aged 10. She worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer and restaurant owner before turning to full-time writing.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/08/29/ru-by-kim-thuy-translated-by-sheila-fischman... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Aug 29, 2021 |
JoAnne Drebett rec
  wordloversf | Aug 14, 2021 |
Oof. At just 141 pages, this book was tough to get through. It was hard work to read even a few of the page-length chapters. The weight of the text and the emotions that run through it seep into your lungs and leave you almost breathless.

Read my full review here. ( )
  littlebookjockey | Sep 15, 2020 |
RU caught me up and kept me reading from page one. Written in small snippets detailing her life as a child in a privileged Saigon family that is finally forced to flee the country after the Communist takeover, author Kim Thuy also gives us glimpses into their horrifying experiences as boat people, then in a refugee camp in Malaysia, before final stops in Canada. The short sections here flow effortlessly from one to another, although the chronology skips haphazardly between various locales and years and extended family members. The title, 'ru,' means a small stream, or a flow in French (the language in which it was first published), while in Vietnamese it means a lull, or even a lullabye. Kim Thuy's story, which I suspect is highly autobiographical, does indeed flow naturally and gently, by subjective memories, and reads very much like a lengthy, meandering prose poem, giving us an artfully told tale of one family's long journey into a new life. RU is, I think, a must-read for anyone interested in the Vietnamese diaspora, a direct result of the years-long Vietnam war. (Called the American war by the Vietnamese.) I was enormously impressed by this little book. A magnificent achievement. My very highest recommendation.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Jul 10, 2020 |
I read this book over a couple of days. First of all, let me say that my edition was beautifully published with little French flaps and feels nice and heavy in my hands.

I picked this up on a whim at the library (I tend to do that with library books, along with everyone else, I'm sure) and was happy I did.

Thúy's writing is simple and it has a humble, dreamlike quality that I really admire. Although, sometimes I will say that her prose left me a little lost -- I wasn't sure who she was referring to in her vignettes or where we were up to in her loose timeline. I'm not sure how much of that was intentional but I did have to reread a few sections before I felt comfortable continuing.

She discusses the fragility of identity and the American dream so well. She was born in Saigon and claimed refugee status to eventually settle in Montréal, Canada. I love how she is frequently referring to Montréal, Saigon, Malaysia and France as if they're all muddled together (as they truly are!).

She talks about language in a way that is frank and honest and comes from her own experience. I loved her talking about how she adjusted, how her language adjusted. She talks about not knowing the difference between summer and winter clothes and instead, just layering all their clothes on top of each other and hoping for the best. Her mother wearing men's sweaters, her father wearing women's sweaters and not knowing the difference, not caring, even.

Thúy is honest about communism in a way that I feel makes the politics of everything accessible, because it's her story and she lived through it. The vignettes and structure of this story make it easier to read -- she often talks about difficult subjects, war, loneliness, isolation, desperation, but on the next page, she'll talk about a family reunion and her grandma's birthday or the best noodle soup she ever had. So in that way, the book is made lighter, and feels almost like a conversation.

I feel like I learnt a lot from this book. I learnt about all sorts of different foods and slang words and how to refer to a loved one if you're Vietnamese. But I would've actually preferred more of the book discussing her time in Montréal because I really connected with that part of the book and felt like it added another layer of richness, another layer to a complicated, complex, valuable life.

She feels a little bit like Maya Angelou in the way that Angelou talks about people with a frankness -- the good and the bad. Thúy does that, although I would argue in a more sentimental way but it felt honest and I appreciated that.

Lastly, I'll leave you with a short YouTube clip of the author talking about her work. She seems like a lovely human being.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oq0wrDVXS9E ( )
  lydia1879 | Feb 1, 2020 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 53 (següent | mostra-les totes)
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.
afegit per lkernagh | editaThe 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.
afegit per lkernagh | editaThe National Post, Shawn Syms (Feb 3, 2012)
 

» Afegeix-hi altres autors

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Kim Thúyautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Fischman, SheilaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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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.
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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.
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"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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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.

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