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Ru (2009)

por Kim Thúy

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

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8755624,800 (3.83)305
A book of rare beauty: Ru is a lullaby of Vietnam and a love letter to a new homeland. Ru: In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow - of tears, blood, and money. Kim Thuy's Ru is literature at its most crystalline: the flow of a life on the tides of unrest and on to more peaceful waters. In vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit, we are carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec. There, the young girl feels the embrace of a new community, and revels in the chance to be part of the American Dream. As an adult, the waters become rough again: now a mother of two, she must learn to shape her love around the younger boy's autism. Moving seamlessly from past to present, from history to memory and back again, Ru is a book that celebrates life in all its wonder: its moments of beauty and sensuality, brutality and sorrow, comfort and comedy.… (mais)
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Inglês (43)  Francês (7)  Sueco (4)  Espanhol (1)  Norueguês (1)  Todas as línguas (56)
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September 19, 2023 Update Added a review for the 2023 film adaptation of Ru under Trivia and Links below. Also a NOTE: The pronunciation of Thúy sounds like "Thwee" (soft on the t sound). It means "water" in Vietnamese. Don't pronounce it "Too-ee" (hard t sound), which means "stinky/rotten" in Vietnamese. 😂

Re-read for TIFF 2023
Review of the Random House Kindle eBook (2012) translated by Sheila Fischman from the French language original "Ru" (2009).

I had completely forgotten that gesture, which I’d performed a thousand times when I was small. I’d forgotten that love comes from the head and not the heart. Of the entire body, only the head matters. Merely touching the head of a Vietnamese person insults not just him but his entire family tree.
...
When I meet young girls in Montreal or elsewhere who injure their bodies intentionally, deliberately, who want permanent scars to be drawn on their skin, I can’t help secretly wishing they could meet other young girls whose permanent scars are so deep they’re invisible to the naked eye.


I first read Ru, which means "Lullaby" in Vietnamese, several years ago in my pre-reviewing days at Goodreads. It was 5 stars for me at the time, and it still felt like 5-stars on this re-read, which I did in advance of seeing the film adaptation next week at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

It does seem from the film trailer that the movie will concentrate on the family's arrival in Quebec, Canada after escaping as boat people from Communist Vietnam in the 1970s. The novel is far more sweeping and is disorienting as it is told in non-chronological vignettes that range from the lead character Tinh's childhood in Vietnam, thru the Communist victory in the war, the family's escape and eventual emigration to Canada and then further into the future when Tinh herself is grown with a family of 2 children and makes periodic visits back to Vietnam in the present day.

See poster at https://images.ctfassets.net/22n7d68fswlw/2Fztx8Y6qP5a5ajn8RW0OV/13be25fe8d589c5...
Promotional poster for the 2023 film adaptation of "Ru". Image sourced from TIFF.

I found Ru to be just as engaging on second reading with its beautiful evocations of childhood memories, the trauma of war and refugee escape and the 'fish out of water' settlement into a new country and culture while still hanging on to your roots.

Trivia and Links
Ru has been adapted as a Canadian French/Vietnamese language film with director Charles-Olivier Michaud and the author Kim Thúy as producer. The film will World Premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2023 and will have a general Canadian release on November 24, 2023. Read the TIFF background to the film here and watch an English language subtitled trailer here.

I gave the 2023 film adaptation a 5-star rating in my review on Facebook. Photographs of author & film producer Kim Thúy, film director Charles-Olivier Michaud and the main cast can be seen at Journal de Montreal (Note: French language article, turn on web translator). The film will have a November 24, 2023 general release in Canada. Foreign and/or streaming distribution is unknown to me at the present time. ( )
  alanteder | Sep 23, 2023 |
Kim Thúy was ten when she fled Vietnam with her family in the wave of "boat people" fleeing the Communist reprisals after the fall of Saigon. After four months in a Malaysian refugee camp, her family was chosen for emigration to Canada based on her parent's French proficiency. They settled in Granby, Quebec (by chance the town my grandfather is from) and were warmly welcomed. Thúy attended the University of Montreal and then worked as an interpreter and translator for a Canadian firm based in Vietnam advising the Vietnamese government on their move toward capitalism. She later opened a restaurant in Montreal called Ru de Nam. Ru is her debut novel and highly autobiographical, referring to all the events above, as well as being the parent of an autistic child. The book won the Governor General’s Literary Award and the translation was a finalist for the Giller Prize.

In addition to a mesmerizing story, what draws me to Thúy's books is her writing. It's like reading poetry. Almost every page is a new "chapter", usually only a paragraph or two, and ends with an impactful sentence. Although a complete thought in themselves, they string together flawlessly, creating a beautiful stream of thought moving back and forth in time. I get swept along and usually finish her book in a sitting or two. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote labfs39 | Apr 29, 2023 |
3.5 :) ( )
  XSassyPants | Jun 11, 2022 |
With #WITmonth 2021 drawing to a close, I'm going to allow myself a little bragging: this post is the 100th review of a Woman Writer in Translation on my ANZ LitLovers blog.
(To see the graphs, you need to visit my blog).
It's true that I've written nearly three times as many reviews of male writers in translation (281, as of August 2021), skewed somewhat by my project to read and review all 20 novels in Zola's Rougon-Macquart cycle, and by my fondness for classic Russian Lit and the choices of the Indonesian Book Club. It's also influenced by my project to read all the Nobel Prize winning novelists, to plod on with 1001 Books using what's already on my TBR, and by contributing to Shadow Juries. But mostly it's a case of what comes my way and looks interesting. Most of the translations on my shelves are there because I read an enticing review by Stu at Winston's Dad: like me, he doesn't read to an agenda, he reads what comes his way and looks interesting. Still, I'm pleased with the upward trend for #WITmonth over time, and I've certainly read some interesting books amongst those 100.

Ru, the debut novel of prolific Canadian author Kim Thúy was a bestseller and won a swag of prizes both in its initial French release in 2009 and in an English translation by Sheila Fischman in 2012. It won the Governor General's Award for French-language fiction at the 2010 Governor General's Awards, and was a Scotiabank Giller Prize Nominee (2012), which is when I became aware of it through a review by the late Kevin from Canada., It was a Man Asian Literary Prize Nominee in the same year.

At only 153 pages, many of which are only half-page fragments, it's more of a novella than a novel. It's a work of autofiction and these fragments frame aspects of Thúy's life and relationships. As a child, she fled Vietnam by boat with her parents and spent a few months in a Malaysian refugee camp before settling in Canada in 1979 aged 10. She worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer and restaurant owner before turning to full-time writing.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2021/08/29/ru-by-kim-thuy-translated-by-sheila-fischman... ( )
  anzlitlovers | Aug 29, 2021 |
JoAnne Drebett rec
  wordloversf | Aug 14, 2021 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 56 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
To risk all on the sum of its parts might seem dangerous, but the material’s innate truth justifies its author’s faith and through skilful assembly a whistle-clean story emerges. And yet, the story matters less than the raw acceptance of its moments, often brutal, occasionally full of beauty, the unexpected glimpses recounted without judgement or sentimentality of a world we know only through hearsay.
 
Thúy's impressionistic approach means the book can feel rudderless, but the stories are poetic and powerful.
adicionada por lkernagh | editarThe Guardian, James Smart (Jun 12, 2012)
 
Subtlety of voice and effect is Thúy’s strongest hand. Never is there a sense of false drama or manipulation of pain for easy emotional gain. In strictly human terms, the book’s pivotal balance between endurance and despair is delicately, beautifully realized.
adicionada por lkernagh | editarThe Globe and Mail, Jim Bartley (Feb 10, 2012)
 
Despite some moments of digression and occasional instances of thematic overreach, Ru is a poetic and highly individual exploration of what it can mean to straddle multiple cultures and identities simultaneously.
adicionada por lkernagh | editarThe National Post, Shawn Syms (Feb 3, 2012)
 

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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Kim Thúyautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Fischman, SheilaTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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In French, ru means a small stream and, figuratively, a flow, a discharge -- of tears, of blood, of money. In Vietnamese, ru means a lullaby, to lull.
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Je suis venue au monde pendant l'offensive du Têt, aux premiers jours de la nouvelle année du Singe, lorsque les longues chaînes de pétards accrochées devant les maisons explosaient en polyphonie avec le son des mitraillettes.
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"la vie est un combat où la tristesse entraine la défaite"
"j'avais oublié que l'amour vient de la tête et non pas du coeur"
We often forget about the existence of all those women who carried Vietnam on their backs while their husbands and sons carried weapons on theirs. We forget them because under their cone-shaped hats they did not look up at the sky...Those women let their sadness grow in the chambers of their hearts. They were so weighed down by all of their grief that they couldn't pull themselves up, couldn't straighten their hunched backs, bowed under the weight of their sorrow. When the men emerged from the jungle and started to walk again along the earthen dikes around their rice fields, the women continued to bear the weight of Vietnam's audible history on their backs. Very often they passed away under that weight, in silence.
But the young waiter reminded me that I couldn't have everything, that I no longer had the right to declare I was Vietnamese because I no longer had their fragility, their uncertainty, their fears. And he was right to remind me.
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A book of rare beauty: Ru is a lullaby of Vietnam and a love letter to a new homeland. Ru: In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow - of tears, blood, and money. Kim Thuy's Ru is literature at its most crystalline: the flow of a life on the tides of unrest and on to more peaceful waters. In vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit, we are carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec. There, the young girl feels the embrace of a new community, and revels in the chance to be part of the American Dream. As an adult, the waters become rough again: now a mother of two, she must learn to shape her love around the younger boy's autism. Moving seamlessly from past to present, from history to memory and back again, Ru is a book that celebrates life in all its wonder: its moments of beauty and sensuality, brutality and sorrow, comfort and comedy.

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