Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Beauty of Humanity Movement” as Want to Read:
The Beauty of Humanity Movement
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Beauty of Humanity Movement

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  2,434 ratings  ·  390 reviews
Tu’ is a young tour guide working in Hanoi for a company called New Dawn. While he leads tourists through the city, including American vets on “war tours,” he starts to wonder what it is they are seeing of Vietnam–and what they miss entirely. Maggie, who is Vietnamese by birth but has lived most her life in the U.S., has returned to her country of origin in search of clues ...more
Hardcover, 297 pages
Published August 17th 2010 by Doubleday Canada (first published April 6th 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakHalf the Sky by Nicholas D. KristofThe Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla GibbCatch-22 by Joseph HellerThe Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Shelf Warmers
3rd out of 29 books — 5 voters
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenA Fiery Lass by Virginia AirdBalzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai SijieFairytales for Wilde Girls by Allyse NearEarthly Powers by David       Anderson
Great fiction with great cover art
38th out of 80 books — 5 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Friederike Knabe
"Old Man Hung makes the best pho in the city and done so for decades..." The city is Hanoi and "pho" the national Vietnamese dish. It is a flavourful broth poured over a mix of herbs, vegetables, vermicelli and meat (if there is any). In this novel, pho plays an essential role: the soup comes close to being a companion character, echoing the ups and down of its cook's circumstances. The story of the pho-making cook/seller and his popular soup are not only at the centre of events, they are also i ...more
Shirley Schwartz
This is a truly wonderful book. It offers insight into life in Vietnam both before and after the communist movement took hold in the northern part of this country. The city that is at its epicenter is Hanoi. We get a first hand look at what life is like for the ordinary people as their country is brought under communist rule. Ms. Gibb uses beautiful language to develop her no holds barred look at how difficult life is for the people during the turmoil. The book is woven around the life of Old Ma ...more
this is the fourth book of hers that i have read and there seems to be a sharp division between the first two and the second. Gibb has become 'a serious writer'. her first two, Mouthing the Words, and the Petty Details of So and So's Life are personal stories. stories of an individual. simple and compelling stories, simply told. Sweetness in the Belly, and her most recent, The Beauty of Humanity are set in Ethiopia and Viet Nam respectively - in other words, foreign lands - and she takes on poli ...more
I truly loved this novel. My Husband chose it for the book club at our Unitarian Universalist church, as we try to have a deeper understanding of other cultures. I don't usually join in the novels that this group reads as their choices have not appealed to me, but I joyfully said yes to The Beauty of Humanity Movement and was not disappointed. It was great to share the read of such a beautiful and sensitive story with my husband. It's not another depressing Canadian novel. It has too many redeem ...more
I received this book as a First Reads book winner, but I thought I had been forgotten due to the expanse of time it took for the book to reach me. But finally, it arrived!

I have to admit that I initially felt let down by cover art as it illustrates a scene of a Vietnamese male on a sampan. The title alone hints at the intellectual challenge that awaits the reader between the pages. Fortunately, while there is much that presents difficulty in it's explanation of the political history of Vietnam a
Finished this book earlier today and it was fabulous; a very satisfying read. I loved Old Man Hung and everything he stood for: hard work, dedication, loyalty, resilience and an appreciation of the beauty in everything. I can't recall a more likable character in any of my last 10 reads at least. His commitment to the Pho he made every day despite all the obstacles he faced symbolized a lesson all of us need to learn: life is what you make of it and you need to continue to do what makes you happy ...more
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
The Beauty of Humanity Movement is a story about Vietnam - about one of its warring times that the United States had nothing to do with. In fact, the better-known US-Nam war is only mentioned in passing - almost because it actually happened, not because it had any connection to this story. Old Man Hung serves pho to his faithful customers every morning, although he doesn't have a license to operate a business nor does he have a decent location to set up shop. He keeps moving and sets up his stal ...more
Paul Lima
What a wonderful book. Humanizes Vietnam. It could have turned into an anti-American rant, but it does not. It simply lets us know what this poor country has suffered through -- from the Chinese and French occupations, to the war(s), to communism. to the slow return to capitalism.... And it presents a lovable 80-year-old protagonist (a maker of pho, a Vietnamese breakfast soup) who has lived through most of it. He is surrounded by a solid supporting cast. There is a plot, but that is almost seco ...more
Jun 02, 2012 Joanne-in-Canada rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: book clubs
Recommended to Joanne-in-Canada by: Lynn Wilson
As someone too young to have understood the Vietnam War when it happened, I found this an engaging introduction to the history and culture of Vietnam. At first I was annoyed that author Camilla Gibb assumed I knew the basic geography of the country (such as where Hanoi and Saigon were), but that shortcoming was easily rectified on the internet. I also reviewed the major events in the country's history, which oriented me to the political climate during the different periods in the book.

After that
Karen Butler
How does a person who is not a native of Vietnam write so realistically about a nation, the way Amy Tan writes about China? I had to check the author bio to make sure I was not mistaken in thinking she was not from Vietnam. This is truly clever writing. The only thing that irked me slightly is the adulation and idolisation old man Hu'ung receives, even though he spurns the love of his life at an early age and in so doing makes her life a misery. This is depicted as principled behaviour but is it ...more
Absolutely beautiful.

I was stunned by this novel. As a Vietnamese Canadian, unfortunately I've never delved into Vietnam's past on my father's side of the family. After reading this, I have a newfound spark to discover more through books and first-person accounts of their experiences. And being in this situation, I sympathized with Maggie, who is on a journey to find out who her father was after their separation, but is labelled as an outside I've come to care about all the characters in this no
I liked this book. It is set in present day Vietnam and touches on the history and conflict between the North and South.

The plot is about people living a difficult life in poverty. However they live with integrity and create a community of people that they can count on and who help each other. It is heartwarming to read about.

The book is intertwined with scenes, scents and foods of Hanoi. It brought me to a world that I was not that familiar with and really felt like I was there.
It is beautiful

This is not an American soldier war story. The awkwardly titled Beauty of Humanity Movement by Camilla Gibb is a novel that illumines Vietnamese social-cultural history and is set (mostly) in Hanoi featuring mostly Vietnamese characters.

I will never forget Old Man Hung who gives the novel its heart and one of literature's most vivid fictional characters.

Camilla Gibb recommends UNDERSTANDING VIETNAM by Neil Jamieson (1993) for readers interested in learning more about the history of Vietnam.
Whew! A bow is drawn slowly across a violin and a single note plays through the air, then the bow begins to weave a tune that picks up tempo until one is swept up in the glorious music. Thus, this story begins as a softly paced tale, then picks up and develops depth and power that sweep one along with it. A marvellous novel!
In Hanoi, old man Hùng is an itinerant seller of phô from his rickety cart, but those who want the best always find him. Hùng had a phô shop in '50's Hanoi, but it was the me
I really enjoyed this story about Old Man Hung and his pho! I don't know much about Vietnam or its history so this book was very eye opening and interesting. I almost felt like I was in Vietnam when reading it and it has made me add the country to my travel wish list.
An educational delight. Must have a bowl of pho for breakfast now.
Rating = 3.5
Heading = From the Future to the Past to the Present

I had myriad of emotions while reading this heartfelt story. I was grateful to the author for writing a book which focused on the people of the northern part of Vietnam and their need to free themselves from the colonial presences and in the end retained a different yoke on their souls. I was sadden to once again be reminded that war damages people far longer than the conflict itself and is never-ending. I was amazed by the resilien
I was reluctant to read this book at first. I had spent the summer reading a lot of chick lit, so this was a switch mid-genre. I'm glad that I opened it up! I love the characters in this book. The author does a fantastic job of portraying the difference between characters who share a cultural history and yet are culturally different themselves. As in the relationship between Maggie and Tu. Both share a Vietnamese background and cultural history, they are the same and different both at the same t ...more
I read this book for an alumni book club event that I am leading at work. I enjoyed the pacing and the heart of this story. I also learned a lot about Vietnamese culture and history which is a nice added bonus.
I just finished reading The Beauty of Humanity Movement. The author has a great way of distinguishing the different characters and voices, with their view on post war Vietnam and how it has affected their life, romance, expectations and view on the world. Through flashbacks and stories we have a feel of the artists and poets who resisted the party, gathered in Hung's pho shop, as living characters - flawed heroes - and their effect on the still living descendants and people whose lives they touc ...more
Set in post war Vietnam, this is the story of three people whose lives were affected by the war and their post war lives. Old Man Hung had a pho restaurant in Hanoi until the communists took over the country. The dissidents writers and artists gathered in his restaurant to discuss politics and plan their various publications. When all of these dissidents were sent for re-education, Hung lost his restaurant and began selling pho from on a cart on the streets. Tu, a young tour guide, is a close fr ...more
Gibb reminds the reader of the harsh realities of rebuilding in the aftermath of war in her historically accurate novel. She carries the aroma of the country's traditional soup throughout the story of an American Vietnamese's search for the artwork of her father, an enemy of the Communist state who has disappeared. It is the story of a group of brave individuals upholding independent thought and freedom of expression in art and poetry during VietNam's Wars seeking independence.
I really enjoyed this book. Although written by a non-Vietnamese author, it had an authentic feel, with welcome insight into the culture and history of Vietnam, a country I have not read much about. I was also very fond of the characters and wanted a happy ending for all of them. For someone who leans towards darker stories, there was a refreshing sweetness to this book without it feeling hokey. I'm so glad I chose to read this.
This was a lovely book. The characters and the story are very rich. While this book is obviously based on Gibb's research about Vietnam rather than her own experience of Vietnam, it all worked very well. The characters were three dimensional and the story mixed the quirky personalities of the characters she created with a complex history and polictical context. And you cannot read this book without craving a good pho.
A beautifully written book that takes place in Hanoi, with Old Man Hung, the main character telling about Vietnam over many years of suffering from the 1950's to 2007. It is a story told through food, mainly the phu that Hung continues to make from a young boy to an old man. It is a story of family and love (Old Man Hung's adopted family).

I highly recommend it!
My-linh Ma
Thank you Sajeda for giving me this wonderful book about self-discovery, about my culture and roots, about a young woman who journeys to Viet Nam, a journey not quite like mine, but somehow reflecting much of my experience in this beautiful country my parents call home.
Georgy Hadwen
This book grew on me and opened my eyes to the history and brutality of the Vietnam war. The central character Hung is both believable and infinitely sad in living with a broken heart for the woman he thought he loved , the country he thought he had loved and betrayed by both. Not a period of time and history I was familiar with, this book with its well researched critique of Ho chi min city, the destruction of anything deemed counter revolutionary , the importance of poetry in forging life long ...more
The beauty of this book is the main character Hung, an old cook who makes the best pho in town. His story is the story of Vietnam told from the point of view of a wonderful human being, a poor street seller but highly dignified and the bearer of the memories of the Beauty of the Humanity Movement, an ensemble of artists, poets, writers who strive to maintain freedom of expression within an undemocratic regime. Gibb successfully weaves his story in with that of a Vietnamese American, returning to ...more
I've never read a book about Vietnam nor its people. I enjoyed the American perspective that the main character brought to the storyline. Overall, I liked it guite a lot, especially the literary and artistic themes.
Anne Heine
Beautiful bittersweet story of Vietnam's complicated history told through the memorable characters. I love a book like this that can let you in on a family for several generations and all their relationships.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What a wonderful book 1 5 Apr 07, 2014 11:33AM  
  • The Headmaster's Wager
  • The Disappeared
  • Ru
  • Dogs at the Perimeter
  • Every Lost Country
  • The Bone Cage
  • The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars
  • Requiem
  • Dance Lessons
  • Indian Horse
  • The Time In Between
  • A Thread of Sky
  • Can You Hear the Nightbird Call?
  • Alone in the Classroom
  • Curiosity
  • Emancipation Day
  • Light Lifting
  • The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary: A True Story of Resilience and Recovery
From the author's web site:

"Camilla Gibb, born in 1968, is the author of three novels, Mouthing the Words, The Petty Details of So-and-so's Life and Sweetness in the Belly, as well as numerous short stories, articles and reviews.

She was the winner of the Trillium Book Award in 2006, a Scotiabank Giller Prize short list nominee in 2005, winner of the City of Toronto Book Award in 2000 and the reci
More about Camilla Gibb...

Share This Book

“In tourism college they were taught that American notions of what constitutes a personal question are quite different from their own. Tư has learned this the hard way, through responses to questions like: And what do they pay you to be a pharmaceutical representative with GlaxoSmithKline, Mr. Clark? Is this lady your wife or your daughter? Do they have the death penalty in your state of Texas? Why are the insides of your ears so hairy?” 1 likes
“The history of Vietnam lies in this bowl, for it is in Hanoi, the Vietnamese heart, that phở was born, a combination of the rice noodles that predominated after a thousand years of Chinese occupation and the taste for beef the Vietnamese acquired under the French, who turned their cows away from ploughs and into bifteck and pot-au-feu. The name of their national soup is pronounced like this French word for fire...” 1 likes
More quotes…