Publication Date: November 27, 2012
List Price: $16.00*
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Winner of the Governor General's Literary AwardWinner of the Grand Prix RTL-LireShortlisted for the Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie
Longlisted for Canada Reads 2015
At ten years old, Kim Thuy fled Vietnam on a boat with her family, leaving behind a grand house and the many less tangible riches of their home country: the ponds of lotus blossoms, the songs of soup-vendors. The family arrived in Quebec, where they found clothes at the flea market, and mattresses with actual fleas. Kim learned French and English, and as she grew older, seized what opportunities an immigrant could; she put herself through school picking vegetables and sewing clothes, worked as a lawyer and interpreter, and later as a restaurateur. She was married and a mother when the urge to write struck her, and she found herself scribbling words at every opportunity - pulling out her notebook at stoplights and missing the change to green. The story emerging was one of a Vietnamese emigre on a boat to an unknown future: her own story fictionalized and crafted into a stunning novel.
The novel's title, "Ru," has meaning in both Kim's native and adoptive languages: in Vietnamese, ru is a lullaby; in French, a stream. And it provides the perfect name for this slim yet potent novel. With prose that soothes and sings, "Ru" weaves through time, flows and transports: a river of sensuous memories gathering power. It's a classic immigrant story told in a breathtaking new way.
SHEILA FISCHMAN has translated over fifty works of Quebec literature into English. She was the recipient of the Felix-Antoine Savard prize for her translations in 1989 and 1990 and has twice won the Governor General's Award. She lives in Montreal.
Kim Thuy based her award-winning novel Ru on her own experiences as a refugee from war-torn Vietnam. She says the word "ru" has a poetic double meaning: In archaic French, it means a rill or stream, but in Vietnamese, it means a lullaby to soothe a child. More at NPR.org
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