Mãn – by Kim Thúy

Kim Thúy is a Vietnamese Canadian writer who lives in Montreal, Canada. She was one of the four novelists short listed for the Alternative Nobel prize in literature in 2018. Mãn was published in French in 2013 and in English in 2014.

Like her debut novel Ru, Mãn consists of short passages linked together to tell the story of a mixed Vietnamese girl married off to a Vietnamese oversea without courting, without love. He sponsored her to Montreal, Canada where she came to live as a dutiful wife, helping him with his small restaurant and giving birth to two children. She lived a peaceful life until she met a married French chef in Paris and fell in love at first sight for the first time in her life. Their romance opened up a new world to her, be it romantic or heartbroken.

Kim Thúy’s writing is lyrical, poetic, and textured. Her descriptions of plenty of traditional Vietnamese foods are luscious. Her storytelling of various Vietnamese traditions and customs is interesting. The way the protagonist resolved her affair is very typical of Vietnamese women – sacrificing themselves for the family, the next generation, and their nation.

This is a story of resilience, of quiet sacrifices, of delicious food, of enthralling poetry, of warm hearts and rich emotions. A uniquely beautiful novel.