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The Tapestries

by Kien Nguyen

I was carried away by this story of grand passions in early 20th century Vietnam, and was hooked on the story. It is a very visual book. As I read I could imagine the big set pieces (the court scenes or the violent confrontations) being acted out in the film. Sometimes it's fun to read something so different.

Extract

On a small bench near the magistrate's chair, next to an oil lamp, a copper urn was burning. Through the cracks of its covering, Dan saw strings of incense cloud wafting out, carrying the aroma of sandalwood. The old man's hands, misshapen with arthritis, cut through the sultry darkness, crushing the smoke into particles of dust. Those hands had once held a scimitar ... the ghost of its blade still seemed to glint in his vacant eyes. Dan remembered the green mound of grass beneath his father's feet and the way it had turned red when the blood poured. He thought of his mother standing by the window of the brothel, selling her body to strangers. He thought of Ven and her silence. Could he ... would he ... be the instrument of vengeance for these lost souls and for his own?

Parallels

Red Sorghum by Mo Yan
Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn
The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh
 

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