About the Book:
Publisher: Black Heron Press, June 15, 2012
Category: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Set in Tonkin (now northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century, Flesh tells the story of a boy who witnesses the execution, by beheading, of his father, a notorious bandit, and sets out to recover his father’s head, and then find the man who betrayed his father to the authorities. A coming-of-age story of brutal self-awakening and also a tender love story, Flesh takes the reader into places, both dark and wonderful, in the human condition where allies are not always your friends, true love hurts, and your worst enemy can bring you the most solace.
Khanh Ha writes of the physical world with such sensuousness that he will make the reader’s heart ache. At the same time, though Flesh is his first novel, his knowledge of the human psyche is that of a fully mature writer. The title refers to temptation—the temptation of the flesh. But it refers equally to the obligations of kinship, the connections between us and those to whom we are related, even if we would choose not to be.
About the Author:
Khanh Ha was born in Hue, the former capital of Vietnam. During his teen years he began writing short stories which won him several awards in the Vietnamese adolescent magazines. He graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. He is at work on a new novel.
Visit the author at: http://www.authorkhanhha.
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 rather to maintain his family’s honor. Far more challenging a task for a child born in poverty in turn of the century Tonkin (now Vietnam.)
The book is full of characters that are fully developed and each one important – even the dead. Tai returns from watching his granduncle behead his father for raiding another village. He and his brother fall victim to small pox and only Tai survives. Tai is now head of the household and must find a way to keep his mother and maintain the graves of his father and brother. He becomes an indentured servant and experiences a way of life that his time in his very rural village would never prepare him. The opium dens, the big city, the women all become overwhelming and Khanh Ha has, at times a way with words that is so poetic you almost want to cry. But at other times the writing can be somewhat – oh, I don’t know, stilted? awkward? I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s surprising that both writing styles came from the same author.
It doesn’t totally detract from the power of the novel, though and Tai’s story is one to be read. It’s not easy as I wrote earlier but it is worth the effort.
You can see the Flesh Virtual Book Tour Schedule
You can purchase Flesh on Amazon.com (That sounds really awful, doesn’t it?)