Sunday, July 8, 2012

Review: Flesh by Khanh Ha


I was excited to read "Flesh," by Khanh Ha because I am a huge fan of historical fiction, and this particular book was set in Vietnam - a first for me! I adore Vietnamese food and can see the French influences in the cuisine. But, to be honest with you, I have always been a bit murky about what was happening in that part of the world before the U.S. involvement.

I was looking for this book to fill in some of the blanks for me - and it did not disappoint in that regard. "Flesh" brings Vietnam - at around the turn of the last century - to life. Life was hard, and this book does not spare us. The book opens with a scene where our protagonist, Tai, is standing with his mother and baby brother at an execution. It is to be the execution of his father. Ha's powers of description are good, and we are brought into the scene and witness this act.

The execution is in the first pages of the book for a reason. The book starts there because the execution is the catalyst for nearly everything that happens in the rest of the book.

I am getting into spoiler territory at this point, but the execution generates the need for an acceptable burial spot. The Annamese - people of An Nam (See another post I did about this book, and specifically geo-political boundaries. It is pretty interesting, and includes a map of the old place names.) - believed that certain conditions had to exist at a burial location in order to facilitate a good after-life for the deceased.

This need sets Tai's quest into motion. Tai also has a mission to find the man who betrayed his father. This is not discussed much early in the book, although there is some foreshadowing in a few conversations.

The quests play themselves out, and there are plot twists...one in particular that I think you will find interesting.

So, the big question - did I like the book? I liked it. I think that the characters were very believable. I enjoyed the descriptions of a very different time and place. I think my only criticism would be a certain choppiness where we would start off in a new direction or on a tangent and I would be confused for a minute until I re-gained my bearings.

But, overall, I would recommend this book. Part of what I (and many of you, I suspect) love about reading is being whisked off to an exotic place for an adventure. And 'Flesh' fills the bill!


23 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great read. Another one tobadd to my TBR list which is never ending. Great review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Whirls! I know what you mean about the TBRs! I think you will like this one tho!

      Delete
  2. Thank you, Libby, for your charming insight that puts Flesh in a wonderful perspective for readers, especially those who want to be ‘whisked off to an exotic place for an adventure.’ I enjoyed your research on Annam that you blogged on June 13, 2012 — the little French map is accurate. By the way, the word ‘Annam’ has nothing to do with animal worship. In fact, Annam circa 111 BC was a China’s southern-most conquest. Following its subjugation, China named its annexation ‘Peaceful South’, or Annam.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! Great to hear from the author, himself. Also great to learn more about the geo-political history. I did not learn enough about this part of the world in school and I am eager to know more!

      Thanks again for the visit!

      Delete
  3. Wonderfully written review! I have a few friends who's parents came over from Vietnam, it was a very difficult place to be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for coming by! I think things are changing for the better - I just watched a documentary about travel there -- I would go for the food alone :)

      Delete
  4. I am intrigued from your review and love history so this is right up my alley. I am adding this to my list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you will really enjoy it, Gena!

      Delete
  5. Very proud of you Libby. Excellent reivew. You give away just enough to entice someone to buy the book. Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Sandra! I really believe that most book reviews just re-tell too much of the plot, so I try not to do that!

      Delete
  6. Great review...will add it to my list...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Michelle - It is something really different and interesting!

      Delete
  7. Now you have gotten me convince! Added to my list. Hopefully I will get to it soon!
    Thanks Libby, this review has enticed me to read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good! I have not come across that many books about Vietnam, so its great for us all to spread our wings a bit - hope you like it!

      Delete
  8. This certainly looks like an interesting book. I am fascinated by Vietnam and hope to visit someday soon! And congratulations on the author visit - how nice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know - that was GREAT that he came by - made my day! I really want to visit Vietnam too :)

      Thanks for coming by!

      Delete
  9. Hi Libby:

    For publisher's sake, is it possible to see this review on Amazon? Again, very thankful for a deeply felt review.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I like that this book filled in those gaps in knowledge that you mentioned.

    Thank you for being a part of the tour.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Today, I went to the beach front with my children.
    I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear."
    She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a
    hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell
    someone!

    My blog post - www.vigrxenhancer.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hello, always i used to check website posts here in the early
    hours in the daylight, because i like to gain knowledge of more and more.


    Feel free to visit my website; Pirater un compte facebook

    ReplyDelete
  13. I delight in, cause I found just what I used to be taking a look for.
    You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you
    man. Have a great day. Bye

    my web page - Microsoft Office Gratuit

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi there! I realize this is sort of off-topic however I had to ask.
    Does running a well-established website such as yours take a lot
    of work? I am brand new to operating a blog
    however I do write in my diary every day. I'd like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and feelings online. Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas or tips for new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!

    Feel free to surf to my web page :: Dragon City Cheat Engine

    ReplyDelete
  15. What's up, the whole thing is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one is sharing data, that's really fine, keep up writing.


    Have a look at my blog post ... Codes Psn Gratuit

    ReplyDelete