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3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,976 Ratings  ·  872 Reviews
Une femme voyage à travers le désordre des souvenirs : l'enfance dans sa cage d'or à Saigon, l'arrivée du communisme dans le Sud-Vietnam apeuré, la fuite dans le ventre d'un bateau au large du golfe de Siam, l'internement dans un camp de réfugiés en Malaisie, les premiers frissons dans le froid du Québec. Récit entre la guerre et la paix, ru dit le vide et le trop-plein, l ...more
Broché, 144 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Liana Levi (first published October 2009)
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3rd out of 13 books — 36 voters
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Friederike Knabe
Finished it in one go. A totally absorbing memoir/reflection on life in Vietnam, escape with the boat people, finding something like a home but not really in Quebec... Unusual in structure, rich in imagery, the interconnected vignettes paint a portrait of the heroine, her family, her country and what it means to be connected and uprooted at the same time.

Towards the end of the book, looking back on her earlier life, the narrator muses "...after only thirty years I already recognize our old selv
Jul 12, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Until I was more than halfway through this book, I thought I was reading a memoir. That's my fault, because the blurb on the back and the information about the book on the Goodreads book page makes it clear that it's fiction, albeit autobiographical fiction. This fact slipped my mind at some point between acquiring the book and starting to read.

Like the author, the narrator of the work is a Canadian woman of Vietnamese origin, whose family settled in Canada as refugees. I particularly like the
Nov 30, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Refugees. It's a word we hear so often these days, amidst massive geopolitical tremors that conceal countless very personal tales of dislocation and desperation. How many refugees should we let in? 200? 25,000? 1,000,000? Infinity?

Nguyễn An Tịnh is a refugee. One. She recalls small kindnesses, gestures from neighbours and attempts at communication, simple things from those first moments. This whole book is a series of fragments lifted from Vietnam, Quebec, and elsewhere, strung together piecemea
Feb 23, 2013 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bio-memoir readers, Asian hx and culture readers
Kim Thuy has created a very different fictionalized memoir based in her past growing up in Saigon , living a life of privilege until that city's fall. Then the story changes to deprivation, re-education, escape, the new, cold world of Canada. She has chosen an unusual format for this book, a series of one and two page vignettes from her life, not in order of occurrence but some order that is internally important to the author and protagonist.

The writing is wonderful (my over-used, fall back word
Claire McAlpine
Reading Ru by Kim Thúy is like taking a long overland journey while looking up regularly to witness what passes in front of our eyes. Sometimes the view is stunning, sometimes it elicits sadness, it can be moving, nostalgic, perhaps an odour transports us back to a scene from childhood, a person reminds us of someone we once knew.

Reading it in French imbues it with a drifting, lyrical resonance, sometimes I drifted off as the excess of descriptive words were beyond my reach and I was too lazy to
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This is an exquisite fictionalized memoir of a Vietnamese refugee who settled in Canada as a child. It's written almost like a prayer of remembrance and thanksgiving. It drifts through time and space, alighting on events and places that shaped a woman who is a part of two worlds, and thus can never wholly belong in either one of those worlds.
Kim Thúy's Ru was originally published in French in Canada in 2010, where it won the Governor's General award for fiction among others, and secured publication rights in 15 additional countries. The English translation by Sheila Fischman (a specialist in translating French-Canadian literature) was published in 2012, and was shortlisted for Canada's prestigious Giller Prize. It's quite a feat - considering that Ru is Kim Thúy's debut novel, which she published at the age of 41.

Despite its short l
Mar 27, 2015 Jill rated it really liked it
The word RU, in Vietnamese, means a lullaby. A song. And indeed, Kim Thuy’s RU is a form of lullaby, evocative, lyrical, beautifully composed.

This is not a novel, at least in the conventional form. In non-chronological order, Kim Thuy offers up memories and musings at a distance – some stunningly rendered (“My parents often remind my brothers and me that they won’t have any money for us to inherit, but I think they’ve already passed on to us the wealth of their memories, allowing us to grasp the
Neal Adolph
I'm not sure how to write this review. I have the sense that I may have read this book wrong. It is in an exciting format, short fascinating recollections of a life which is told as it is remembered by a quasi-fictional protagonist. And the writing is. The translation may even be very good. At moments it comes off as poetry, or prose poetry. And this is why I think I may have read this book wrong. Like most poetry, it might demand to be read out loud so that its words could become real, its imag ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Based on the author's childhood experiences of fleeing Vietnam during the war and arriving in Canada as a refugee, Ru is a scattering of memories, short vignettes told by Nguyễn An Tịnh (An Tịnh being her first name, which is one punctuation mark different from her mother's). The word "ru" means "small stream" in French; in Vietnamese is means "lullaby" - both meanings capture both the meandering nature of the story, such as it is, as well as the soothing voice of a woman to her past self, the c ...more
Jan 22, 2013 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a beautiful, lyrical journey - Ru is so expressive and personal, it felt at times painfully intrusive of the author's memories.

This is Thuy's first novel and an incredible feat of poetic beauty. The innovative structure gives it a dreamlike quality which captivated me from the start.

A slim, perfectly expressed personal history.
It was OK.
Though I understand the use of "sparse poetic" language, I find I cannot get into this style!
It reminded me off "The Disappeared" by Kim Echlin and Silkin terms of the way it was written.

Storywise, it jumped all over the place between her new current life and old life.
Each page was like a mini-story unto itself...I found there could be more to be found there, more depth, more details, but they were just random stories someone tells you about their life in bits and pieces
Feb 05, 2012 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Beautiful.
An elegiac and lyrical autobiographical novel of a family that fled Vietnam in the 1970s. They arrived in Canada, via Malaysian refugee camps, and eventually settled in Quebec.

The story is prefaced with an explanation. "In French, 'ru' means a small stream and, figuratively, a flow, a discharge--of tears, of blood, of money. In Vietnamese, 'ru' means a lullably, to lull.

The narrator was ten years old when 'the History of Vietnam' ended her "role as an extension of my mother." He
Josiane Lambert
Feb 08, 2016 Josiane Lambert rated it really liked it
Je suis contente d'avoir enfin lu Kim Thùy que je trouve toujours intéressante en entrevue. J'ai beaucoup aimé son écriture et sa façon de raconter avec des courts chapitres dont la fin est souvent le début du suivant. L'auteur relate ses souvenirs de réfugiée, c'est touchant!
Jan 11, 2013 Krista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, can-con
In the preface to a print copy of The Darwin Awards, it warns to only read a couple of the stories per day in order to get maximum enjoyment out of them, and it's true that the stories tend to run into each other and lose whatever poignancy they might have if you slowed down and savoured them individually. I felt that Ru could have benefitted from the same warning.

The title, "Ru", is defined as: in French, a small stream, but also signifies a flow -- of tears, blood or money; in Vietnamese, a lu
Steven Langdon
Jun 14, 2012 Steven Langdon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: super
"One horizon always hides another and it goes on like that to infinity, to the unspeakable beauty of renewal, to intangible rapture." Kim Thuy gives us what is almost a stream-of-conciousness novel, a multi-layered rumination on the people, the tragedies and the history that shape the life of Nguyen An Tinh, a ten year old Vietnamese girl. She moves from wealthy childhood to harsh seaborne escape, then grim refugee life, followed by surreal transfer to bewildering but welcoming small-town Quebec ...more
Bonnie Grove
Jul 18, 2012 Bonnie Grove rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Ru in three short sittings over two days. It reads quickly. The book is a compilation of short (often less than a page) vignettes, glimpses into a life incomprehensible even to the woman who lived it. The sparse style of the novel is a testimony to the unknowableness of life, even one's own life. A life of here and there, of vanishing, and not knowing what is worth holding on to and what should be let go of. A bracelet concealing diamonds, a home, a nation, a language, a man, family. Whic ...more
Barbara Skuplik
Jan 09, 2013 Barbara Skuplik rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, asia, historical
I first learned of this book while I was watching the Giller Awards (she was among the nominees for best book). After hearing the description of the book, and hearing Kim Thuy (the author) speak, I immediately put it on my "to read" list. I am so glad I did.

It took me a while to really get into this book; each page is its own vignette or memory, for lack of a better description. Once I got used to her writing style, I was swept away by her beautiful prose. Truly an interesting and unique perspec
Mary Soderstrom
Mar 17, 2014 Mary Soderstrom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We are in the middle of a provincial election campaign here in Quebec, where two of the big issues are whether the province should hold another referendum on separating from Canada, and whether to adopt a new "Charter of a Lay Society" which proposes banning public employees from wearing "ostentatious" religious symbols.

Both of the issues are divisive but the first one has been around for as long as I can remember. The other, though, is playing into a current of xenophobia that I thought Quebec
Jennifer D
So...we lost power for over 24 hours (super storm sandy) and i decided to re-read this beautiful novel.

Kim Thúy's novel, Ru was shortlisted for this year's Giller Award. Released in its original French in 2010, it won the French-language Governor-General’s Award that same year, and has secured foreign rights in 15 countries. (Though according to a rep at Random House Canada, I have been told a U.S. publication date has not been established.) The English translation has been crafted beautifully
Par petites touches éparses, dans des chapitres très courts (jamais plus d’une page et demie), Kim Thúy relate ses souvenirs, au gré de sa mémoire : son enfance à Saigon, entourée de sa nombreuse famille, l’arrivée de la guerre, suivie de la paix non moins brutale, sa fuite en Malaisie, puis au Québec, son retour temporaire au Vietnam des années plus tard. Son récit n’est pas chronologique, les évènements et les personnages s’entremêlant, mais se comprend aisément et compose une fresque aux coul ...more
Aug 06, 2012 Helynne rated it really liked it
Vivid, but random and non-chronological memories of a middle-class childhood in Saigon that turned into a nightmarish experience under the communist regime and a harrowing survival in a Malaysian refugee camps are contrasted in this contemporary memoir by Kim Thuy with her life over the past 30 years as a now-North Americanized writer and mother in Quebec. Thuy has explained in recent interviews in both English and French that French has become the language of her adulthood as well as her litera ...more
Ru is a wonderful read. While it is a small book, it is a well deserved recipient of numerous literary awards. The writing is that good. In an interview, the author calls them writing awards. Her book is full of that same humility, insight, dry wit and candour. It is hard to believe that this book was originally written in French as its structure and word choices in the English translation are so amazing. The words themselves have energy and life and carried me along on a wonderful sensory, poig ...more
Dec 09, 2012 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The (Vietnamese-born) author writes about Vietnam, past and present, though this is not an autobiography. The book is written as a serious of "snapshots" and moves quickly between past and present, sometimes making it difficult to determine which period is being described. Characters are introduced but not developed and it would appear that the author is writing down random thoughts as they come to her. There are some interesting descriptions of life during the war but overall the book failed to ...more
Mala Ashok
Mar 01, 2016 Mala Ashok rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a powerful little story. Every immigrant will be able to relate to this novel which describes a Vietnamese Boat Person's move to Canada and settling down. It is a poignant description of her childhood and the stark contrast between the life in Vietnam and the new life in Canada.

It is when she goes back to Vienam that she realizes that "the American dream had made me believe I could have everything." She felt the American dream had made her "weightier, more substantial."

Every page in the boo
Another Canada Reads selection. I've wanted to read this since it was published in Canada to rave reviews. All of my goodreads friends who have read this, appear to have loved it. I think those things built the anticipation for me a little too much because I feel a little let down by this book. It's beautifully written and perfectly short (read it in one sitting if you can...with a wee new baby I'm just glad I completed it in one day!), but was missing something...few themes got developed in a s ...more
Angela M
Nov 10, 2013 Angela M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A small book with a big impact . The story of a Vietnamese immigrant told in short journal like entries . It moves from past to present and back again as the narrator tells of how she and her extended family lose their life of comfort and find refuge in Canada . The stories are moving , heartbreaking at times but ultimately an uplifting story of family and love. Beautifully written!
Jan 14, 2016 Darryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
We often forget about the existence of all those women who carried Vietnam on their backs while their husbands and sons carried weapons on theirs. We forget them because under their cone-shaped hats they did not look up at the sky...Those women let their sadness grow in the chambers of their hearts. They were so weighed down by all of their grief that they couldn't pull themselves up, couldn't straighten their hunched backs, bowed under the weight of their sorrow. When the men emerged from the j ...more
tsetsi stoyanova
Feb 16, 2016 tsetsi stoyanova rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
Интересна книга, съставена от спомени и откъслечни мигове от живота, едни забавни, други тъжни,разкази от далечни страни с екзотичен декор и забележителни участници.
И любимият ми пасаж: "Единственият въпрос, който някога съм си задавала, е кога ще мога да умра. Трябваше да избера момента, преди да родя децата си, защото оттогава тази възможност вече не стои пред мен. Тръпчивата миризма на напечената им от слънцето коса, миризмата на потта по гърба им в нощите, когато се будят от кошмар, прашната
EDIT: It's been a couple of days since I read this book, and I had to knock it down to three stars in retrospect. I remember almost nothing of this book by now, with more slipping away even as I write this. It really does read like a series of poetic fragments that someone kept in a diary and then stuck together with nothing but a thin thread of an opening sentence to connect the fragments together. Even the reducing this to three stars feels like I'm still rounding up.

I first saw the light of d
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500 Great Books B...: Ru - Kim Thúy - Jen 7 30 Jul 30, 2015 03:59PM  
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  • When Everything Feels Like the Movies
  • The Ever After of Ashwin Rao
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  • Indian Horse
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  • Nikolski
  • One Good Hustle
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  • Tell
  • Inside
  • Tell It to the Trees
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Kim Thúy arrived in Canada in 1979, at the age of ten. She has worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer and restaurant owner. She currently lives in Montreal where she devotes herself to writing.

Her debut novel Ru won the Governor General's Award for French language fiction at the 2010 Governor General's Awards. An English edition, translated by Sheila Fischman, was published in 2012 and was a
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“A Saigon Proverb: Doe la chine tran, neu buon la thua. Life is a struggle in which sorrow leads to defeat.” 14 likes
“If a mark of affection can sometimes be taken for an insult, perhaps the gesture of love is not universal: it too must be translated from one language to another, must be learned.” 13 likes
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