Monday, 20 July 2015

Mãn: A Novel by Kim Thuy

A Novel
by Kim Thuy
Trade Paperback, 160 pages
Publisher: Vintage Canada

Looks can be deceiving.

From such a slim book, so much. I was about to say what the so much is - but I cannot narrow it down to words. Magic. Simplicity. History. Honour. Tradition. Strength. Perseverance. Trust. And love.

And food! Let's not forget the food. For a while, one of the safest ways Mãn could feel and express emotion.

A tapestry of life. An opening to love.

A delicious book.

It changed me. In the short time it took to read it.

My texts became more poetic. I became more patient.

I loved this book.

From the Back Flap:

A triumph of poetic beauty and a moving meditation on how love and food are inextricably entwined, Mãn is a seductive and luminous work of literature from Kim Thúy, whose first book, Ru, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, received a Governor General's Literary Award and won the nationwide book competition Canada Reads.

     Mãn has three mothers: the one who gives birth to her in wartime, the nun who plucks her from a vegetable garden, and her beloved Maman, who becomes a spy to survive. Seeking security for her grown daughter, Maman finds Mãn a husband--a lonely Vietnamese restaurateur who lives in Montreal. Thrown into a new world, Mãn discovers her natural talent as a chef. Gracefully she practices her art, with food as her medium. She creates dishes that are much more than sustenance for the body: they evoke memory and emotion, time and place, and even bring her customers to tears. Mãn is a mystery--her name means "perfect fulfillment," yet she and her husband seem to drift along, respectfully and dutifully. But when she encounters a married chef in Paris, everything changes in the instant of a fleeting touch, and Mãn discovers the all-encompassing obsession and ever-present dangers of a love affair. Full of indelible images of beauty, delicacy and quiet power, Mãn is a novel that begs to be savoured for its language, its sensuousness and its love of life.

KIM THÚY has worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer and restaurant owner. She currently lives in Montreal where she devotes herself to writing.

SHEILA FISCHMAN is the award-winning translator of some 150 contemporary novels from Quebec. In 2008 she was awarded the Molson Prize in the Arts. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and a chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec. She lives in Montreal.


Excerpt from the Hardcover Edition: