Skip to main content

Review: "Flesh" by Khanh Ha

Synopsis:  The setting is Tonkin (northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century. A boy, Tai, witnesses the beheading of his father, a notorious bandit, and sets out to recover his head and then to find the man who betrayed his father to the authorities. On this quest, Tai's entire world will shift. FLESH takes the reader into dark and delightful places in the human condition, places where allies are not always your friends, true love hurts, and your worst enemy may bring you the most comfort. In that emotionally harrowing world, Tai must learn to deal with new responsibilities in his life while at the same time acknowledging his bond, and his resemblance, to a man he barely knew--his father. Through this story of revenge is woven another story, one of love, but love purchased with the blood of murders Tai commits. A coming-of-age story, but also a love story, the sensuality of the author's writing style belies the sometimes brutal world he depicts.


My Thoughts:  I don't think I have ever read a work of historical fiction set in Asia, let alone in Vietnam.  I am really not familiar with the history of Vietnam so for me, this book was a breath of fresh air; it was a unique story that left me wanting to learn more about the history of this country and region.  

Khanh Ha is a fantastic writer.  His descriptions of the landscape of Vietnam were amazing.  He didn't just describe Vietnam, he created it.  I especially enjoyed his descriptions of the jungle and I think some of the most vivid descriptions were during the scenes when Tai has smallpox and ran away from his home.  I felt like I was with Tai as he moves through the jungle and eventually hides under a pile of straw; that was how vivid the author's writing is.  I also think that the author created a unique set of characters.  While Tai was the main focus, some of the side characters were just as interesting.

I will say that at times the story was a little confusing.  At times, I felt like I was reading a group of stories that had common themes and characters rather than one cohesive story.  I noticed this more in the beginning of the story: after I was about half way through the book, it felt like it started to flow better from chapter to chapter.  I kind of want to go back and read the book again because I feel like I missed things and I might understand the story better after a second look.

There was a pretty significant twist at the end which kind of shook things up.  It wasn't an obvious twist but as it got closer to being revealed, I did guess that was the way the author would end things.  It made me feel bad for Tai but at the same time it added to the 'coming of age' theme of the story.  Overall, I think that Flesh is a rare work of historical fiction that combines a unique tale with beautiful writing.  3 stars.

About the Author:



Khanh Ha was born in Hue, the former capital of Vietnam. During his teen years, he began writing short stories, which won him several awards in the Vietnamese adolescent magazines. He studied Journalism at Ohio University and learned the craft of writing under Daniel Keyes (Flowers for Algernon) and Walter Tevis (The Man Who Fell to Earth).  FLESH (Black Heron Press, June 2012) is his first novel (literary fiction).


Check out other stops on the tour here!
Follow the tour on twitter: #FleshVirtualTour

Comments

  1. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. I'd agree with a lot of what you said. I love the world of Vietnam that we visited. But also remember being confused. But even so, it definitely left a good impression on me.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish . This week's topic:  Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most 1.) The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons   2.) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon           If you read my blog at all, you know I love these two books so much!  I am not afraid to suggest them to anyone who I think might enjoy them. 3.) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - I was definitely recommending this book left and right when the first movie came out. 4.) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 5.) A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin           These are two books that I just recently started recommending but they are books that can appeal to anyone so they are easy picks when someone asks for a recommendation. 6.) Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead  - I get a little embarrassed when I recommend this book to people but seriously, just because it has vampires does not mean it is like Twilight. 7.) The Giver by Lois

Review and Giveaway: "Distant Signs" by Anne Richter

Synopsis: Distant Signs is an intimate portrait of two families spanning three generations amidst turbulent political change, behind and beyond the Berlin Wall. In 1960s East Germany, Margret, a professor’s daughter from the city, meets and marries Hans, from a small village in Thuringia. The couple struggle to contend with their different backgrounds, and the emotional scars they bear from childhood in the aftermath of war. As East German history gradually unravels, with collision of the personal and political, their two families’ hidden truths are quietly revealed. An exquisitely written novel with strongly etched characters that stay with you long after the book is finished and an authentic portrayal of family life behind the iron curtain based on personal experience of the author who is East German and was 16 years old at the fall of the Berlin Wall. Why do families repeat destructive patterns of behaviour across generations? Should the personal take precedence over

Review and Giveaway: "This Son of York" by Anne Easter Smith

Synopsis: Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by This Son of York…” — William Shakespeare, Richard III Richard III was Anne’s muse for her first five books, but, finally, in This Son of York he becomes her protagonist. The story of this English king is one of history’s most compelling, made even more fascinating through the discovery in 2012 of his bones buried under a car park in Leicester. This new portrait of England’s most controversial king is meticulously researched and brings to vivid life the troubled, complex Richard of Gloucester, who ruled for two years over an England tired of war and civil strife. The loyal and dutiful youngest son of York, Richard lived most of his short life in the shadow of his brother, Edward IV, loyally supporting his sibling until the mantle of power was thrust unexpectedly on him. Some of his actions and motives were misunderstood by his enemies to have been a deliberate usurpation of the throne, but thr