A runaway bestseller in Quebec, with foreign rights sold to 15 countries around the world, Kim Thúy’s Governor General’s Literary Award-winning Ru is a lullaby for 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, money. Kim Thúy’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 sons, 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.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
A poetic rendition of what it is to be an immigrant, in a vastly different country from your origins, and the emotional layering of the past and present, evoking life for Vietnamese boat people living through tumultuous and horrific times.
Ru speaks of the Canadian identity. This reflective novel won the governor-General’s Award in its original French, and the elegant English translation, cratfed with sensitivity and integrity by Sheila Fischman, was short listed for this year’s Giller Award, thereby demonstrating Canada’s bilingual literary talent. Written by a Vietnamese Canadian author, Ru also represents Canada’s increasingly important comtemporary immigrant experience. Using few words and employing a unique form and subtle, haunting style, Kim Thúy sketches striking vignettes which combine personal experiences with a diverse range of themes and historical events. It is a masterful debut.