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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  78 ratings  ·  64 reviews
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, pla ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 15th 2012 by Black Heron
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3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  78 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Bookish Indulgenges with b00k r3vi3ws
I took the longest time to read this book. While I finish a book in a day or two at the most, I read this one over a period of a week. No, not because it was boring, not because it was dragging and certainly not because it was easy to put down. The only reason I forced myself to put down this book after every few chapters is because I did not want it to end! Seriously, it is that good.

The story is that of and narrated by a teenage Vietnamese boy, Tai. Even though he did not share a particularly
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Flesh by Khanh Ha opens up with a much older Tai reflecting on a tumultuous time in his life when he was a teenager. At age 16, Tai, along with his mother and younger brother, witnessed the beheading of his father, a known bandit. After a terrible bout with smallpox, from which his younger brother dies, Tai sets out on a mission to retrieve his father's skull so it can be buried with his body, as well as uncover and seek revenge on the man who betrayed his father. He becomes an indentured servan ...more
Zohar -
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Flesh by Khanh Ha is a novel taking place in Vietnam and China. It is a coming of age story in a dark time of a young man’s life.

Life in Annam (Vietnam) is hard and ugly. A young boy named Tai witnesses the beheading of his father, a known bandit, and swears to bring back his skull to be buried with his body. On his quest, Tai becomes an indentured servant, get involved in the opium trade, meets a girl and learn more and more about the father he hardly knew.

As I read Flesh, Khanh Ha's debut nove
Ruth Hill
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
I suppose I have somewhat mixed feelings about this book. Yes, I can agree without a doubt that this is a book that is full of history that I honestly had never heard. I know very little about Vietnam, and this told me much about nineteenth century Annam (which became Vietnam). I was horrified to discover how the people were treated by the Chinese, and the barbarism nearly sickened me. The realism of the book certainly made an impression on me.

I was somewhat turned off by the unnecessary profan
Dec 07, 2012 rated it liked it
First of all I will be honest as I have stated before, my usual genre of books that I enjoy reading are, YA, and Paranormal in subject. I have read historical fiction and for the most part have enjoyed stepping away for a time and experiencing something new.

I am in two minds in this review. I loved the poetic way the author writes, I can smell and taste everything he is describing from the country side and the rice fields to the opium dens of the city and I am transported to a different time and
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Flesh is not an easy book to read. It starts with and ends with a beheading and there is much in between that does not make for a light and happy tale. But sometimes I like a book that challenges me and this was definitely one of those books. The synopsis intrigued me but sadly had little to do with the actual story - I really hate when that happens. Fortunately Flesh was strong enough to survive my aggravation. For what our young hero Tai, really seeks is not to avenge his father's death but ra ...more
Dec 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Flesh starts with a memorable opening scene. The novel's protagonist, Tai, a young man of sixteen, stands numbed as he watches his bandit father undergo his punishment. He is decapitated by the uncle who raised him but who is the royal executioner. Tai, his mother and little brother, are there to bear witness and to take his father's body away for burial.

Thus begins Tai's journey to bring honor back to his family. Before the book ends, this journey takes him to new cities to live among strangers
Frances Le
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I like books that make you think about them after you’ve put them away. But the power of words alone won’t cut the mustard. Only books that bring nutrition to the soul will stay around, at least in your mind. They stay alive with unforgettable characters, the perpetual clash of good and evil and what comes out of it, the human ignorance and redemption.

When I picked up The Homecoming of Samuel Lake from a New Fiction shelf, I already had a notion about this much talked about book. Then I was take
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Flesh by Khanh Ha is dark and dreamlike. Tai’s coming of age story is fraught with trauma and hardship, but he maintains his determination and remains grounded despite the beheading of his father at the hands of his granduncle in Northern Vietnam. Ha has woven a dark love story within Tai’s trip through adolescence that takes him to Hanoi and other places as he searches for the man who turned in his bandit father to the authorities. Part dark adventure, Tai is thrown into the world of Vietnam’s ...more
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Literary Fiction & Historical Fiction fans
Recommended to Teddy by: The Author, Khanh Ha
Shelves: read-in-2013
Flesh is not just a great book, it is a masterpiece! The characters spring to life on the very first page and stay with you way after reading the very last page. Both the characters and landscape are unforgettable! I completely forgot that I live in 2013 Canada.

Ha writes with such poetic prose that it is sensuous, as the book jacket says. There are secrets to be drawn out that the reader does not suspect. They make perfect sense and explain a lot. They also add even more value to the story.

I hig
Mitch Jp
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Goodreads readers
Recommended to Mitch by: a book-loving Asian friend
What a fine writer Ha is. FLESH is both sophisticated and complex; yet it delivers a spare narrative with such a sheer prose.

I haven't read anything like FLESH, regarding originality, since RICE by Su Tong. There are many debut novels that come out of nowhere and seize you and won't let go, e.g., Memoirs of a Geisha, The Tide That Binds, Cold Mountain, and FLESH is one of them.
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Later today though...

For now, due to a hectic schedule, I've decided to post the tour notes, and will put up the review this evening :)

Oh look, evening all ready :S . I've decided to try something different, and make up for my guilty feelings about not posting earlier in the day by live blogging. I've put a notice out on twitter, and you can follow along while I blog - through computer crashes and all - just by refreshing my home page every once in a while) :D

As I write that, I realize that Fles
Teresa Tran Lutyens
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Teresa Tran by: Came upon a reader's comment on my local library's website
Reading Flesh brought back my creative writing instructor’s ‘must-have’ rules for a good novel: Readability, Creativity, Depth (RCD). He’s credited with a PEN Faulkner Award in fiction, so I listened. He said even with RCD, a novel must also be interesting. He meant the characters.

And that was what pulled me through Flesh. It has a magnet. It sucks you in. It slaps you with vicious scenes, gory scenes, downtrodden scenes. But all the while you could sense in your bones this stubborn grip of huma
Candice Holt
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any serious book lover
Recommended to Candice by: serendipity
A very satisfying read, one of the quality novels I’ve read by Asian American novelists. Flesh is fresh, original in its storyline—it’s not a knock on other Asian American writers regarding their main themes usually focused on the Asian immigrant and ethnic adaptation. Flesh is also eloquent in its prose, a rare quality in modern fiction, if you consider prose and style as brick and mortar that have been missing sorely from literary fiction since Hemingway and Faulkner.

Tai, whose bandit father w
Faye {Daydreaming_Star}
Oct 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Before It’s Lost
Reading is one of those activities that can be described in many different ways to do many different things. Some people may read to escape the world, some people may read to have a good cry, to have a great laugh, or simply to feel emotions over situations that would ordinarily be unknown to them. It is a journey that is different to every single person and changes from book to book. I feel it is important to remember this when it comes to Flesh by Khanh Ha. This book is definit
Lilian Garcia
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lilian by: a blogger
I looked into the dark, whispering coppice for the lights of torches, for a crowd of unruly addicts and coolies. For a girl clad in black wearing a long pigtail. In the susurrus of the leaves I heard the weeping of my heart.

Passages like that remind me of The Great Gatsby. But Flesh isn’t about the romance and glitter of the Jazz Age, though it tells a boy’s story in his tragic search for revenge, for ways to save what’s left of his family. And somewhere in this quest, love blooms like an exqu
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it
**I received a copy of this book from Novel Publicity for the purposes of my review**

Flesh is a coming of age tale set in late 19th century Viet Nam. The story opens with the protagonist, Tài, witnessing his father’s execution by his Granduncle. His father is a bandit who attacked a nearby village and was subsequently betrayed by a comrade. Because of his crimes, Tài’s father’s head is placed on a stake outside the victimized village. For Tài this is unacceptable and he begins a quest to retriev
Dec 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
At the turn of the 20th century -- in modern day Vietnam -- Tài, a boy of about fifteen, stands with his mother and little brother. They are watching a mass execution. The last victim is Tài's father. This leads the boy on a journey to recover his father's head, without which his daddy will be unable to find peace in the afterlife. Later Tài will be become an indentured servant to two men to procure a proper burial place for his father and another loved one.

Throughout Flesh we see Tài growing up
M. Fenn
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Disclaimer: The folks at Novel Publicity gave me a copy of Flesh in exchange for my honest review.

I was initially drawn into the book by the cover. Look at it up there. Isn't it gorgeous? And then we have the first chapter where we meet Tài as an old man and he shows the reader his two prized possessions.

"In my twilight years, my possessions are sparse...One of them is a pocket watch. You open its cover and on the inside there's a woman's black-and-white picture...This watch belonged to a man wh
Laura Roberts
Khanh Ha’s novel, Flesh, is an unusual, complicated story of human frailties and desires. Set in 19th century Vietnam, the book opens with a vivid (some might even say gruesome) description of the public beheading of the narrator’s father--a common thief. The boy, Tài, watches as each of the members of his father’s gang are summarily executed, and though Tài himself admits he was never close to his father, the scene has lasting consequences.

Miraculously surviving a smallpox outbreak, which claim
Audrey-Uyen Hoang
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Goodreads readers
Recommended to Audrey-Uyen by: discussion selection for local library bookclub
I like this book for its depth and elegance. I like it from its eerie opening sentence: `In my twilight years, my possessions are sparse.’ From there you follow Tai, the protagonist at sixteen, through many twists and turns of his violent yet full of rude awakening world, and it begins with his witnessing the decapitation of his bandit father on an execution ground in Hanoi – and who but his granduncle is the executioner!

The author is economical with his words, poetic with his expressions, imagi
Pavarti Tyler
Oct 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: epicfiction
Disclaimer: I received a complementary copy of Flesh from Novel Publicity as a part of Khanh Ha’s blog tour. No promise of a positive review was made.

Review:At the beginning of Flesh, we are introduced to Tài, a young boy whose father has been beheaded as punishment for crimes against a neighboring village. Tài’s young life is steeped in blood and disappointment. His father was only killed due to another in his tribe turning against him. The execution itself is performed by his Great-Uncle. Not
Melissa Storm
When you were growing up, what things were important to you? Dressing according to the latest fashion, possessing the coolest toys and gadgets, getting good grades and doing your homework, having friends you adored—that all sounds about right, if you grew up in late twentieth century America like I did.

Enter Tai, the protagonist of the literary novel Flesh by Khanh Ha, a boy growing up in nineteenth century Vietnam. Tai’s priorities are much different than yours or mine. The story starts with Ta
Virginia Doillon
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Virginia by: Bookclub member
Flesh was one of the three titles our bookclub members presented in our July meeting. I recommended The Book Thief. Another member suggested The Buddha in the Attic. The third title was Flesh from our Asian friend. We discussed among ourselves—eleven of us—which title we would read for this August meeting with the member who proposed the book title leading the discussion. After much debate, we settled on Flesh. I agreed with the choice, though reluctantly. I was aware that we all knew about thos ...more
Erleen Alvarez
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
You can read more reviews at Books For YA!

After I read Flesh, I honestly don't know how I'm going to review it. I'm not a big fan of historical fiction ever since high school because it tends to bore me whenever I read them. But Flesh is different than any historical novels that I read.

From the very first chapter of Flesh, I was already captivated by the narrator's dark tone and the way he set the mood of the story, as if warning me that this is not going to be an easy read.

In my twilight years,
Vibina Venugopal
Nov 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
The novel opens up with a scene of execution like the ones stripped off from the pages of history were the culprits are beheaded..A young boy Tai the protagonist witnesses his father's last moment by his great granduncle, and he has a sense of admiration for his father's bravery even during his last moment and yes Tai goes after his father's skull,he acts acts weird at atimes yet there is something fierce about him..Tai's life is clouded by sorrow and resentment, he runs away from his home away ...more
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Full, non-spoiler review courtesy through Online Book Tour at
Book & Movie Dimension a Blog

Flesh held a huge interest as a book blogger to actually review since it delves into deep topics in which mean the both horrible and equally beautiful aspects of the human condition.

Flesh is supposed to be a novel about Tai, a young boy, who during 20th century Vietnam sees his father’s beheading by his own uncle who happens to be an executioner. Soon after this, he decides to look for his father’s skul
Falcon Storm
Nov 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Falcon by: girlfriend
Shelves: reviewed
Okay, I think the first thing I should say before I start this review is that normally, I wouldn't have picked up Flesh to read on my own. Granted I have not been doing too much leisure reading these days, but I’m still glad that I did read Flesh.

While I was unable to connect with the main character Tài, I’m chalking that up to cultural differences, his journey on his way to honoring his family had me intrigued from the first chapter. Although not fast paced as most books I tend to read, I found
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Find the enhanced version of this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

I'm gonna be completely honest and tell you I wasn't sure what to expect from Khanh Ha's Flesh as I'm not well-versed in the history or culture of Vietnam. I came to it a blank slate and what I found was a book unlike anything I've ever attempted.

I hardly even know where to begin in reviewing this piece and I think a lot of that has to do with how the book is written. Unlike a lot of writers, I don't
Leigh-April  Morgan
Jul 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who loves reading a good book
Recommended to Leigh-April by: I acquired this title for my county libraries.
Years ago when I read W. Saroyan’s The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, my thought was, I’ve never read anything like this. Having just read Flesh, a novel set in the old Vietnam (called Annam then) at the turn of the 20th century, the same thought hit me.

Flesh is written in a stylish prose. The prose is chameleonlike. Sometimes boyish, sometimes formal, sometimes poetic. And it’s deeply moving. It’s not a boy’s voice. It’s the voice through reminiscence of an old man in his seventies. Hi
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Book Haven: Giveaway: Flesh by Khanh Ha 1 4 Apr 03, 2013 06:00PM  
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Khanh Ha is the author of Flesh (Black Heron Press) and The Demon Who Peddled Longing (Underground Voices). He is a seven-time Pushcart nominee, a Best Indie Lit New England nominee, a twice finalist of THE WILLIAM FAULKNER-WISDOM CREATIVE WRITING AWARD, the recipient of Sand Hills Prize for Best Fiction, and Greensboro Review’s ROBERT WATSON LITERARY PRIZE IN FICTION. The Demon Who Peddled Longin ...more
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