42. Vi (Kim Thuy)

Screen Shot 2018-05-27 at 12.52.56 PMLife has been busy and although I have been reading, I have been slow to finish my blog posts.  As fan of Kim Thuy, since devouring her debut book, Ru, I pre-ordered her latest book, Vi in preparation for meeting her at the FOLD festival in Brampton.  The name Vi means “precious tiny one” and the character was lovingly protected by her three brothers during their journey and as they built their lives in Quebec.  Although Vi is a fictional character, there are glimpses of Thuy’s strength, resilience and experiences shared within the novel.

Like Thuy, Vi escaped Vietnam as one of the “boat people”.  Vi’s mother formed a plan to flee leaving her husband behind, to keep her brother’s alive by avoiding their conscription to war or the mine fields.  They were lucky to escape with their lives despite the probable risks of drowning or being killed by pirates.

Since they spoke French, Vi and her family took refuge in Quebec, connecting with other relatives who had escaped Vietnam and rebuilding their lives.  There were high expectations for success and Vi struggled to study linguistics.  This is similar to Thuy’s experience and both the character and the author ended up becoming a lawyer.

After meeting Kim Thuy, it is difficult to differentiate the tales she told at the event from the stories she has written in Vi.  The author and the book are both powerhouses of strength and resilience.  Both the book and the author are full of stories that are condensed into a dainty package which is vibrant, generous and determined.

Reading Vi makes me want to reread my signed, copy of Ru and savour it again after making connections with the author’s experience.  All her books are stories that you can read in one sitting.  Please enjoy them but also read my post about meeting this remarkable woman who shares the stories that are difficult to tell and goes out of her way to meet people to hear their experiences.

Ru, Man and Vi are remarkable books but I hope that Kim Thuy will write her own story in the form of a memoir.  The world needs to hear more about the experience of refugees, to understand and to be inspired to help others!

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