Vi by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman
Longlisted for the Giller Prize!
Canada Reads winner Kim Thúy—author of the
novels Ru and Mãn—returns with Vi, exploring the lives, loves and struggles of Vietnamese refugees as they reinvent themselves in new lands.
The youngest of four children and the only girl, Vi was given a name that meant "precious, tiny one," destined to be cosseted and protected, the family's little treasure.
Daughter of an enterprising mother and a wealthy, spoiled father who never had to grow up, the Vietnam War destroys the life they've known. Vi, along with her mother and brothers, manages to escape--but her father stays behind, leaving a painful void as the rest of the family must make a new life for themselves in Canada.
While her family puts down roots, life has different plans for Vi. As a young woman, she finds the world opening up to her. Taken under the wing of Hà, a worldly family friend, and her diplomat lover, Vi tests personal boundaries and crosses international ones, letting the winds of life buffet her. From Saigon to Montreal, from Suzhou to Boston to the fall of the Berlin Wall, she is witness to the immensity of the world, the intricate fabric of humanity, the complexity of love, the infinite possibilities before her. Ever the quiet observer, somehow she must find a way to finally take her place in the world.
About the author:
Born in Saigon in 1968, KIM THÚY left Vietnam with the boat people at the age of ten and settled with her family in Quebec. A graduate in translation and law, she has worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer, restaurant owner, and commentator on radio and television. She lives in Montreal and devotes herself to writing.
“Thúy is known for her short and elegant stories about being a refugee and immigrant, and the challenges of adapting to a new culture. In her novels, we experience Vietnam’s colours and tastes, the difficulties of exile but also riches, and a search for identity that we can all recognize ourselves in.” —The New Academy jury citation
“Kim Thúy’s novels are as compact as her tiny titles might suggest . . . but their poetic contents punch well above their weight in terms of story and raw emotional heft.” —Becky Toyne, The Globe and Mail
“At once highly stylized and emotionally raw, Vi is as elegant, refined. Exquisite from start to finish.” —Toronto Star
“Thúy’s fiction is wholly original. Not only does she pursue her very personal theme of the Vietnamese refugee experience, she does it in gem-like poetic prose so beautiful you want to read whole paragraphs twice.” —Susan G. Cole, NOW
“Kim Thuy’s Vi is the most beautifully written book I’ve ever read. This is the perfect book to curl up with at the end of a busy day.” —Lesley Wilkins of Blue Heron Books (Uxbridge, ON), 49th Shelf
“Thúy . . . bravely exposes the sordid reality of racism in Vietnam. . . . Vi, a fragment of the name Vincent, is another example of Thúy’s playfulness with words. In particular, Thúy studies distinctions between languages as if this scrutiny might divulge the reasons for distinctions between peoples. . . . [The] story feels freighted with history.” —Donna Bailey Nurse, Literary Review of Canada