The first Vietnamese Canadian novel
Illustration: Quill & Quire.
Happy Thanksgiving, Canadian friends!
From this book review at DiaCRITICS, it seems like one thing that Vinh Nguyen is thankful for this year is an English version of what he says is the first Vietnamese Canadian novel. Québécoise writer Kim Thúy’s novel Ru was a hit when it was published in French in 2009. The book has finally been released in English translation this year.
The novel joins a small cluster of texts that, taken together, constitute what we might call “Vietnamese Canadian literature”: memoirs by Vietnamese Canadians (Nguyen Ngoc Ngan’s The Will of Heaven: A Story of One Vietnamese and the End of His World, co-authored with E.E Richey; Minh Thanh Nguyen’s Leaving Vietnam; Kim Phuc’s The Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, The Photograph, and the Vietnam War, co-authored with Denise Chong; and Thuong Vuong-Riddick’s The Evergreen Country: A Memoir of Vietnam), poetry collections by Vietnamese Canadians (Thuong Vuong-Riddick’s Two Shores / Deux Rives), works by Sino-Vietnamese Canadians (Vincent Lam’s Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures and The Headmaster’s Wager) and novels written by non-Vietnamese Canadians with prominent Vietnamese characters (John Bergen’s The Time in Between and Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For). While many of these works have been successful in their own right, Ru’s arrival on the scene, its massive critical and commercial success, has brought public attention to Vietnamese Canadian experiences and to the literary rendering of these experiences, to the possibility of Vietnamese Canadians expressing themselves through the beautiful art of fiction.
Here is the author speaking about writing the book: