The Sweetest Fruits (Hardcover)

A Novel

By Monique Truong

Viking, 9780735221017, 304pp.

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

List Price: 26.00*
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Description

An ingenious reimagining of Greek-Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn's migratory life through the voices of the women who knew him best, and who testify to their own remarkable journeys

A Greek woman tells of how she willed herself out of her father's cloistered house, married an Irish officer in the British Army, and came to Ireland with her two-year-old son in 1852, only to be forced to leave without him soon after. An African American woman, born into slavery on a Kentucky plantation, makes her way to Cincinnati after the Civil War to work as a boarding house cook, where in 1872 she meets and marries an up-and-coming newspaper reporter. In Matsue, Japan, in 1891, a former samurai's daughter is introduced to a newly arrived English teacher, and becomes the mother of his four children and his unsung literary collaborator.

The lives of writers can often best be understood through the eyes of those who nurtured them and made their work possible. In The Sweetest Fruits, these three women tell the story of their time with Lafcadio Hearn, a globetrotting writer best known for his books about Meiji-era Japan. In their own unorthodox ways, these women are also intrepid travelers and explorers. Their accounts witness Hearn's remarkable life but also seek to witness their own existence and luminous will to live unbounded by gender, race, and the mores of their time. Each is a gifted storyteller with her own precise reason for sharing her story, and together their voices offer a revealing, often contradictory portrait of Hearn. With brilliant sensitivity and an unstinting eye, Truong illuminates the women's tenacity and their struggles in a novel that circumnavigates the globe in the search for love, family, home, and belonging.


About the Author

Monique Truong is the author of two novels, The Book of Salt and Bitter in the Mouth, and her work has been published in fifteen countries. Her awards and honors include the PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, the Asian American Literary Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Family Foundation Award.


Praise For The Sweetest Fruits: A Novel

Praise for The Sweetest Fruits:

"It isn't only the fantastic Lafcadio Hearn who springs to new life in these pages. The women around him do as well, even as they mix the extraordinary and the ordinary in an exhilarating new way. The Sweetest Fruits is brilliant and heartbreaking--I was transfixed." —Gish Jen, author of Typical American
 

"Monique Truong has composed a sublime, many-voiced novel of voyage and reinvention.  It will cross horizons, yet remain burrowed in your heart."  —Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

"Intimate and sensuous yet majestic in scope, The Sweetest Fruits is a rapturous, glorious novel, extraordinarily alive to the world." —Idra Novey, author of Those Who Knew
 
"Presented in four courses from the perspective of the women closest to him, The Sweetest Fruits is a feast you’ll want to devour for its arresting metaphors and its beautiful prose." —Anita Lo, author of Solo: A Modern Cookbook for One

Praise for Monique Truong:

"Impressive and ambitious . . . An irresistible, scrupulously engineered confection that weaves together history, art, and human nature . . . Displays the author's supple imagination on every page." —The Los Angeles Times on The Book of Salt

"A debut novel of pungent sensuousness and intricate, inspired imagination . . . A marvelous tale."Elle on The Book of Salt

"A deeply compassionate and artfully crafted novel about being foreign and family at the same time by the writer whose debut, The Book of Salt, swept us away." —O: The Oprah Magazine on Bitter in the Mouth