Ru is a short novel composed of first-person vignettes detailing the life of a young woman whose family fled Vietnam for Canada when she was a child. From their terrifying escape by boat to a squalid refugee camp to the cultural confusion of Quebec, Ru is a lyrical portrayal of the immigrant experience.
"Like Canada, Vietnam had its own two solitudes. The language of North Vietnam had developed in accordance with its political, social and economic situation at the time, with words to describe how to shoot down an airplane with a machine gun set up on a roof, how to use monosodium glutamate to make blood clot more quickly, how to spot the shelters when the sirens go off. Meanwhile, the language of the South had created words to express the sensation of Coca-Cola bubbles on the tongue, terms for naming spies, rebels, Communist sympathizers on the streets of the South, names to designate the children born from wild nights with GIs."
Kim Thúy is the author of Ru and Mãn. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, her family fled their country by boat when she was 10. They settled in Montreal, Canada, where Thúy still lives today.
Length: 133 pages
Set in: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam; Quebec, Canada
Translated by: Sheila Fischman