Muse & Views Bookclub was hosted by Jane at Colette's home. Present were Carla, Colette, Jane, Janet, Jolene, Michèle and Shirley. We had a nice array of hors d'oeuvres, sausage, vegetables and cheese. Jane served a very nice lemon tart.
This month's book is Michèle's choice, Ru by Kim Thùy.
Kim Thùy was born in 1968 in Saigon. She left on a boat with her family for Malaysia in 1978 and spent 4 months in a refugee camp before coming to Québec. Her family was sponsored by a group from Granby in the wave of Boat people who were given refugee status in Canada. After a year in Granby, her family moved to Montreal. She studied literature and law and practiced law for a few years. She also owned a restaurant.
Ru was first written in French in 2009 and then translated in to English. It has since been translated into 15 different languages. It has won several awards including the Governor General Award for best french language fiction in 2010. It also won the CBC Canada Reads competition in 2015 as the book that can break barriers.
Comments from members were both positive and negative. The writing style can be difficult to follow. There is no plot or development of characters. It is a journal of recollections, experiences of boat people from Vietnam – Each page recounts a memory of an incident. In each, a word or phrase brings up another memory that is recounted on the next page. Some of the recollections are personal, some are stories she heard from others in her family or other boat people she met.
Several found the writing style difficult. They felt that the stories were not complete, that we could not get a good grasp of the persons in the story. It almost felt as if you were sitting with a person who was telling you small doses of their experiences and going from one story to another without quite finishing the last. Others found the style interesting, a bit like telling a person's life in almost Haiku style. It is certainly a book that does not have to be read sequentially but could be opened almost at any page and read here and there.
Until next time...