Article first published as Book Review: Flesh by Khanh Ha on Blogcritics.
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
My rating for Flesh – 4
Buy this book in paper format
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?
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 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
TLC Book Tour for Flesh by Khanh Ha:
- Monday, June 18th: Olduvai Reads
- Tuesday, June 19th: Savvy Verse & Wit
- Monday, June 25th: The Year in Books
- Thursday, June 28th: Drey’s Library
- Tuesday, July 3rd: Man of La Book
- Friday, July 13th: Book Reviews by Elizabeth A. White
- Monday, July 16th: Buried in Print
- Tuesday, July 17th: Mary’s Cup of Tea
- Monday, July 23rd: A Novel Source
- TBD: libbysbookblog
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:
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”.
Thank you Mr. Ha, congratulations on a wonderful debut novel.
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!
It would make a good movie, or an HBO mini series.
Thanks for the comment.
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.
Email: clenna at aol dot com
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com
Thanks for the giveaway
I would love to read this book—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!
skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net
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.
The book sounds great definitely in my TBR now! Thanks for the giveaway 🙂
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.
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!