Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction
Winner of 2015 Canada Reads Prize
Winner of Grand Prix littéraire Archambault
Finalist for the 2012 Soctiabank Giller Prize
Finalist for the 2018 New Academy Prize in Literature
Longlisted for the 2014 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize.
At ten years old, Kim Thúy fled Vietnam on a boat with her family, leaving behind a grand house and the many less tangible riches of their home country: the ponds of lotus blossoms, the songs of soup-vendors. The family arrived in Quebec, where they found clothes at the flea market, and mattresses with actual fleas. Kim learned French and English, and as she grew older, seized what opportunities an immigrant could; she put herself through school picking vegetables and sewing clothes, worked as a lawyer and interpreter, and later as a restaurateur. She was married and a mother when the urge to write struck her, and she found herself scribbling words at every opportunity - pulling out her notebook at stoplights and missing the change to green. The story emerging was one of a Vietnamese émigré on a boat to an unknown future: her own story fictionalized and crafted into a stunning novel.
The novel's title, Ru, has meaning in both Kim's native and adoptive languages: in Vietnamese, ru is a lullaby; in French, a stream. And it provides the perfect name for this slim yet potent novel. With prose that soothes and sings, Ru weaves through time, flows and transports: a river of sensuous memories gathering power. It's a classic immigrant story told in a breathtaking new way.
About the Author
Kim Thúy was born in Saigon and arrived in Canada at age ten in 1978. She has degrees from the University of Montreal in linguistics and translation and in law, and has been appointed a Knight of the Ordre national du Québec. In 2017, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Concordia University, for giving eloquent voice to the refugee experience, and the Medal of Honour of the National Assembly of Québec.
Sheila Fischman is a two-time winner of both the Canada Council Prize for Translation and Columbia University's Felix-Antoine Savard Award, and has also received the Governor General's Award for Translation and the Molson Prize for the Arts.
"Kim Thuy's writing flows like poetry - it transports and appeases. It is powerful and evocative. This first novel provides a rare feeling of bliss." - Le Figaro
"An exemplary autobiographical novel...The major events in the fall of Vietnam are painted in delicate strokes, through the daily existence of a woman who has to reinvent herself elsewhere. A tragic journey described in a keen, sensitive and perfectly understated voice." - Governor General's Literary Award jury citation
"Kim Thuy describes her journey...employing scattered memories as they flow from the conscience... rich in sense and imagery.. The title, Ru, which means "stream" in French... sets the tone of this delicate novel, where the past and present mingle, reconstructing the course of a singular life." - Le Monde