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.
PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK:
Published by: Black Heron Press
Author: Khanh Ha
Genre: General Fiction
Purchase a copy here: Amazon
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 Vietnamese adolescent magazines. He graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor's degree in journalism. "Flesh" is Mr. Ha's first novel. You can learn more about him by visiting his at his website listed above.
THE BOOKISH DAME'S REVIEW:
Dark and descriptive, this is not a book for the faint of heart. The opening chapter about a young boy watching the beheading of his father in all the bloody detail is shocking to say the least, but like a movie we can't stop watching regardless of its gore...this book just grips us viscerally from those first pages.
The writing is bare and conversational. Mr. Ha is a clear and clean writer who speaks directly to his reader. I felt much of the time as if I were sitting on a sofa with him looking through his family album while he told me the story of his life. It was a fascinating story in all its different aspects. No page was left unturned...
Exotic, other worldly, almost fairytale-like (in the oldest sense of that word) in parts, this book tells us the earthly story of good meeting evil or the connection between the spirit and the flesh. So much is earthbound, but so much points to the heavenly that we're drawn to compare it. This is a very spiritual novel.
The characters are nearly mythic. A whole study could be made of them and their interactions with each other and the world they live in. Such an interesting novel in that sense alone.
For those who want something unusual and off the beaten track to read, this one will take you away. It will also surprise you with its spiritual depth and magical writing. Khanh Ha is a generous and gifted writer. I thoroughly enjoyed the book as I found it foreign and exotic at the same time as it spoke to universal themes of life and love, death and dying, heaven and earth. Outside my box and loved it!!
4 stars Deborah/TheBookishDame
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