Publication Date: 15th June 2012
Book Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
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.
Flesh is a story of shades and contrasts, languid but intense, darkly detailed and quietly introspective, poverty and cruelty, love and sensuality.
Tai is a compelling narrator and Ha excels with characterisation, even minor characters are fully fleshed out. Both setting and scene are vivid, from jungle to opium den, beheading to small pox epidemic. What was forefront for me was the deep sense of family honour, duty and loyalty guiding Tai's actions.
I've loved my many visits to different south east Asian countries, I love the culture and the people. Khanh Ha's writing is so visceral you aren't just visiting Vietnam, you're immersed in the experience which is both beautiful and confronting. I certainly wished to be elsewhere when it came to the scene with the unfortunate monkey.
A unique and evocative read, it may not universally appeal but I appreciated the experience and look forward to Khanh Ha's distinctive writing in his next book.
Cover: darkly stunning
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I'm thrilled to offer readers the chance to win a copy of FLESH. Just leave a relevant comment or question along with your email address. The giveaway is for one hardcover and open to US, CAN, AUS & England.
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Giveaway ends 27th April and winner will be announced on my blog. Good luck everyone!
My thanks to Khanh Ha and Amy of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for my copy of Flesh.