Friday, March 29, 2013

Flesh by Khanh Ha HFVBT Review

Set in Twentieth Century Annam, Tai's story starts with tragedy. A boy watches as his father is executed as a criminal. Seeking revenge, his life starts to spiral out of control. He is indentured to a wealthy benefactor to pay for a auspicious grave for his father and little brother claimed by small pox. He travels to Hanoi, and begins working for a geomancer. Thus begins Tai's life altering journey of the streets of Hanoi. Readers are taken on a journey though China's opium dens and Vietnam's rugged jungles. Tai's life story includes survival against the odds, violence, love, lust and jealousy.

This book is gorgeous and rough all at the same time. Life is rough and Tai is given no breaks. But he holds no grudge or hatred towards life. I loved how he always seems hopeful.The plot of this book is twisted and dark. Betrayal seems almost inevitable and love is hard to come by. But the power of Ha's writing makes for a wonderful book.
Twitter Hashtag: #FleshVirtualTour

Publication Date: June 15, 2012
Black Heron Publishing
Hardcover; 368p
ISBN-10: 0930773888

The setting is Tonkin (northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century. A boy, Tai, witnesses the beheading of his father, a notorious bandit, and sets out to recover his head and then to find the man who betrayed his father to the authorities. On this quest, Tai's entire world will shift. FLESH takes the reader into dark and delightful places in the human condition, places where allies are not always your friends, true love hurts, and your worst enemy may bring you the most comfort. In that emotionally harrowing world, Tai must learn to deal with new responsibilities in his life while at the same time acknowledging his bond, and his resemblance, to a man he barely knew--his father. Through this story of revenge is woven another story, one of love, but love purchased with the blood of murders Tai commits. A coming-of-age story, but also a love story, the sensuality of the author's writing style belies the sometimes brutal world he depicts.

Read an excerpt HERE.

View the Book Trailer HERE.

Praise for FLESH

"Vietnam-born Ha’s beautifully described [. . .] first novel, set in his native country at the turn of the 20th century, opens with an infamous yet respected bandit being beheaded in front of his wife and their two young sons. This beginning casts a pall over the tale as Tài, the eldest son, embarks on a far-reaching journey to retrieve his father’s skull, find a suitable burial site, and seek revenge on the man who betrayed his father’s trust. Through a series of twists and turns [. . .] Tài trades two years’ service to a wealthy entrepreneur for land on which to bury the father’s remains. During that time, Tài loses his heart to Xiaoli, an indentured servant working in an opium den, and will do anything—including holding off on vengeance and killing a French soldier—to protect her. In this dark, violent, and poetic saga, with disjointed cinematic vignettes that make it often read like a screenplay, characters are not who they seem. While this makes for a thrilling finale, what lingers [. . .] is Ha’s descriptive prose." - Publishers Weekly

"History marches on, and there will never be something like that ever again. Flesh is a historical novel set in pre-turn of the twentieth century Vietnam, a Vietnam so very different than the Vietnam known today. A young man is faced with the honest brutality of his world in his first sight. Trying to understand a world filled with such hate and such joys, and how it can twist young minds, Flesh is a strong addition to any literary historical fiction collection, much recommended." - Midwest Book Review

About the Author

Khanh Ha was born in Hue, the former capital of Vietnam. During his teen years, he began writing short stories, which won him several awards in the Vietnamese adolescent magazines. He studied Journalism at Ohio University and learned the craft of writing under Daniel Keyes (Flowers for Algernon) and Walter Tevis (The Man Who Fell to Earth).  FLESH (Black Heron Press, June 2012) is his first novel (literary fiction).
For more information, please visit Khanh Ha's WEBSITE and BLOG.

I reviewed this book as part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Thank you to Amy and the Author.


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