Review: Mãn by Kim Thúy

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*I received my copy of Mãn from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: Mãn

Author: Kim Thúy

Publisher: Random House of Canada

Publication Date: August 26, 2014

ISBN: 9780345813794

Mãn

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Mãn has three mothers: the one who gives birth to her in wartime, the nun who plucks her from a vegetable garden, and her beloved Maman, who becomes a spy to survive. Seeking security for her grown daughter, Maman finds Mãn a husband–a lonely Vietnamese restaurateur who lives in Montreal.

Thrown into a new world, Mãn discovers her natural talent as a chef. Gracefully she practices her art, with food as her medium. She creates dishes that are much more than sustenance for the body: they evoke memory and emotion, time and place, and even bring her customers to tears.

Thúy’s writing is beautiful and elegant and reading Mãn is a new and exciting reading experience. Her prose is delicate and vivid and I enjoyed reading this short collection of memories. I was touched by the speaker’s interactions with Luc and the tenderness of their relationship. Their love is beautiful and comes to a sad and unfulfilled end.

However, the writing is so poetic that it edges on the abstract. It is beautiful, but it doesn’t have a tangible form. It’s difficult to grasp the story arc. I couldn’t relate to the speaker and I couldn’t find a consistent flow in the story. I felt really disconnected from the story itself and often felt lost or confused as to who the characters were and what the setting was. The story tends to jump around and I didn’t think that all of the characters were thoroughly introduced.

Overall, Mãn is full of beautiful language and elegant prose, but the story doesn’t reach out and grasp you. In creating poetic prose, Thúy looses a sense of characterization and fluid plot.

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