Kim Thuy told us the story of her own life in her first novel Ru. We learned of the Vietnam boat people up close and the horrors they left behind as well as the kindness they received in Canada. She has now lived here longer and worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer and restaurant owner in Montreal. The last profession results in vivid descriptions of Vietnam dishes which Man, a chef in Montreal, serves her clientele.
Her second novel follows the story of Man, whose name means “perfect fulfillment”, but she lives a dull, respectable life with her husband and children. This changes when on a trip to Paris she encounters yet another chef and this time falls madly in love.
The book is full of memories of the old world left behind, as well as discoveries of new life. Kim Thuy ties food and love together in a graceful way. She creates dishes that are much more than sustenance for the body, that evoke memory and emotion, time and place. She is devoting all her time to writing these days. This is an excellent translation by the award-winning translator Sheila Fischman.
Review by Anne McDougall