Book Review: Flesh by Khanh Ha

July 3, 2012
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

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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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12 Comments

  • Khanh Ha July 3, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Thank you for a descriptive and pointed review. As you succinctly said about Flesh, it is like “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.” I hope that readers will enjoy the novel’s “brutal honesty” and journey through it “whether through light or darkness”.

  • nancyo July 3, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Actually, I liked it and thought it would make a good movie, although that’s not why I liked it. I was really taken with his sense of place that just jumps out at the reader!

  • Sarah July 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    This sounds like an interesting book and realist look at life in another culture and setting. I like book which are evocative and contain a spirit of place as well as strong characters and plot. This novel seems to be all those things.

  • Clenna July 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Email: clenna at aol dot com

  • Margie July 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com
    Thanks for the giveaway

  • Sheila K. July 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I would love to read this book—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  • Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours July 5, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    This book deals with dark topics for sure, but the writing sounds mesmerizing. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  • London Judge July 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    The book sounds great definitely in my TBR now! Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

    londonjudge@verizon.net

  • Buried In Print July 16, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    I really enjoyed the episodic nature of this, the way that the reader is pulled from scene to scene — each one so vivid — gradually assembling a picture, along with the narrator, of what’s in his family’s past, and what that means for his present and future.

  • Harvee Lau July 26, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    I enjoyed your review and it must have been true to the book as the author agreed with your comments. The dream then turned into more lifelike drama at the end, which I appreciated!

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