Book Review: Flesh by Khanh Ha

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Article first published as Book Review: Flesh by Khanh Ha on Blogcritics.

About:
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.

The pub­lisher is giv­ing away one copy of this book— use the Raf­fle­copter form at the end of the post to enter.

  • 368 pages
  • Publisher: Black Heron Press (June 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0930773888

Book Review Flesh by Khanh Ha

My rating for Flesh4

Buy this book in paper format

Thoughts:
As I read Flesh, Khanh Ha’s debut novel, it seemed to me that the story is almost dreamlike. A dream in that early hours of a hot morning where you are still in between sleeping and waking up. Your conscious mind taps into your unforgotten but repressed memories which lash out in vicious force with unforgiving storylines. While not always bad, these dreams have a tendency to shape the day or the week with their brutal honesty and, quite honestly, make excellent stories.

The novel starts with a beheading and ends with a beheading, both of them witnessed by the protagonist, Tai, a teenage boy who is thrust into manhood after his father is executed (beheading #1 – this is not a spoiler, it happens on the first few pages). In accordance with his beliefs, Tai goes on a quest to reunite his father’s skull with the rest of his body and hence to bring him peace.

Much of the story takes place in 20th Century Vietnam, where life is harsh and people do what it takes to survive. The journey throughout the book, whether through light or darkness, is fascinating, violent and even heartbreaking. I do think that the book could have been a bit tighter, but that did not distract me from the adventure.

Mr. Ha is a talented writer; he does a wonderful job setting the dark, yet poetic, mood and a fine job describing settings in vivid, smells, colorful imagery. Each chapter reads like a long lost memory, as if Tai was recalling his life in an older age and telling the story to a grandchild or an engaged reader.

So tell me, what is the best debut novel you’ve read?

Synopsis:
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.

Buy this book in paper format

Give­away

  • Give­away ends: July 10, 2012

  • US/Canada Ship­ping Addresses Only

  • No PO Boxes

  • Win­ners will have 24 hours to write back with their address, oth­er­wise an alter­nate win­ner will be picked

Congratulations: clenna@

TLC Book Tour for Flesh by  Khanh Ha:

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free from TLC Book Tours

BOOK BLOGGERS – Have you read Flesh? If so link up your review below:

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