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Ru

by Kim Thuy

Ru tells the stories of her family after the US withdrawal from Vietnam left many westernised educated people at the mercy of the communist victors. Her short vignettes build into a moving portrayal of their struggles from riches to rags and, hearteningly, back to riches again in their adopted country. An interesting, poetic and rewarding read.

Extract

When I saw my first snowbanks through the porthole of the plane at Mirabel Airport, then too I felt naked, if not stripped bare. In spite of my short-sleeved orange pullover purchased at the refugee camp in Malaysia before we left for Canada, in spite of my loose-knit brown sweater made by Vietnamese women, I was naked. Several of us on the plane made a dash for the windows, our mouths agape, our expressions stunned. After such a long time in places without light, a landscape so white, so virginal could only dazzle us, blind us, intoxicate us.
I was as surprised by all the unfamiliar sounds that greeted us as by the size of the ice sculpture watching over a table covered with canapes, hors d'oeuvre, tasty morsels, each more colourful than the last. I recognized none of the dishes, yet I knew that this was a place of delights, an idyllic land.
Translated by Sheila Fischman

Parallels

Dogs at the Perimeter by Madeleine Thien
The Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb
 

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