Cover Image: Em

Em

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Member Reviews

Em is a gorgeous, spare, poetic series of interconnected stories, translated well by Sheila Fischman. It is a great accomplishment of Quebecois literature, establishing Thúy as a poetic force to be reckoned with.
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Thank you for the advanced copy 

The content was quite interesting but I can’t say that this book was for me.
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Em by Kim Thúy (English translation) is beautifully written. At first, I wasn't certain how I felt about the disjointed nature of the book but as I read more, I began to appreciate the artistic nature of the writing. Some stories connected and intertwined, while others were left with loose ends. Much like the storyline of our everyday lives. As someone with little knowledge of the conflicts in Vietnam, this book gave me glimpses into a dark past and left me curious and wanting to learn more.

Thank you Random House Canada for a copy of this book.
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Em by Kim Thuy follows the perspective of various characters during the Vietnam war. It is short but quite impactful with elements that were heartbreaking. I found it a bit disjointed and hard to read since it felt a bit choppy with its wording. Not sure if it’s because of the translation that made it hard for me to really appreciate it.
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Kim Thuy’s novel EM follows an array of characters linked together by fine threads.
Set during the war in Viet Nam we learn of the hardships and the atrocities that took place during the war and the repercussions suffered after the war ended. 
Kim Thuy’s prose is lyrical and sparse. The translation from the French is superb. 
EM is a powerful story. I plan to read it again.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada and NetGalley for allowing me access to an advanced digital edition of this book.
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If you haven’t read any of Kim Thúy’s books, then you should know that not only is she known for her short but meaningful prose, but all that her books tend to be composed of often disjointed vignettes. This actually works well for the story and characters’ journeys in Em as I enjoyed seeing the various characters and learning some of their fates and history all in one section. My favourite was seeing how the characters, Louis and Emma Jade were brought together not only once but twice by fate.

Full review can be found at the link provided.
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Kim Thúy managed to write the sensitive and heartbreaking topics of this book in such a wonderful way. It was a slow read for me, but I think that actually enhanced the reading experience, as I was able to sit with the characters and their stories for a month, reading a few vignettes every couple days. The writing was beautiful and I really felt for all of the characters.
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This book is moving and poignant. A beautiful opportunity to learn history through these relatable characters. Highly recommend
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This book is in my top five for this year.  I love everything Kim Thuy writes, but this book is exceptional. Her writing is like poetry and yet she tells of the most horrible things people have done to each other.  It is the most moving account of the aftermath of the Vietnam War that I have ever read.
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I have not finished this one, but it is spectacularly beautiful.  Somehow Kim Thuy's way with words shines through translation (when many are not able to overcome this).  A real treat for lovers of language.  Savour this one.
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I had the privilege of seeing Kim Thuy at the Vancouver Writers Festival shortly after she published her first novel Ru. She was part of a panel of first-time authors talking about the excitement and nervousness around being a first-time author. She was charming and humble and I purchased her book that night. It was a lovely and difficult story about how her family was welcomed as Vietnamese refugees into Canada. The book became a sensation and I felt lucky to have seen her speak..
Em continues in the same tradition talking about the ravages of the Vietnam War. I found this book sharper in focus, more experimental in style and at times more difficult to read because of its focus on children and the impacts of the war.
This slim novel reads to me like a fever dream or long-form poem. The writing is beautiful and the subject matter tough. I recommend this book for the writing and also the historical aspect. Events like Operation Babylift to the massacre at My Lai are put into context.
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I always enjoy books that emphasize connections between characters and this book delivered on that.  Each chapter is essentially a snapshot in time during the Vietnam War and it wasn’t until the very end I realized how truly connected each of the characters were.
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Historical fiction is one of my favourite literary genres, and I’ve read many books set during WWI or WWII, but Em by Kim Thúy is the first one I’ve read about the Vietnam (American) War. ⁣
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Em is not your typical book where it follows a main character from point A to point B. It begins with rubber plantations and French colonialism, continues with the war, Operation Babylift, the Mỹ Lai massacre, and the nail salon industry. Throughout all of this, you’re introduced to a cast of interconnected people whom you may or may not necessarily read about again. I appreciated how she didn’t describe horrific or painful events for shock value but as contrast or context to highlight the acts of love, and the resilience of people. ⁣
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As a Canadian-born child to Vietnamese parents, I’ve always been curious about Vietnam’s history, and this little gem took me by surprise. It amazes me how the author conveyed so much in such short chapters, and in the fewest words. I read an interview she did with CBC where she described her writing, ⁣
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"𝘐 𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯, 𝘢𝘭𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢 𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘱. 𝘈𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘭𝘢𝘷𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥. 𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘢 𝘭𝘰𝘵, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘭𝘢𝘷𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘰𝘱𝘦𝘯 𝘶𝘱 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘮𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘺𝘸𝘢𝘺, 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘢 𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘴𝘢𝘶𝘤𝘦. 𝘐 𝘵𝘳𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘶𝘯𝘯𝘦𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘳𝘺."⁣
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5 Stars⁣
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My sincere thanks to Netgalley, Penguin Random House Canada, and the author, Kim Thúy, for the digital ARC. ⁣
I loved this book so much I went out and got a copy for my shelf.
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A short historical fiction novel sharing stories of relationships during the Vietnam War and in its aftermath, Thúy shows how love can still be found in the most dangerous circumstances.
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​The alternative cover for this novel depicting a box with various tangled strings is talked about in the novel and I think a beautiful representation of the novel itself. A tangled web of stories from individuals who are all linked in some way, Em draws connections between some of the most traumatic events in Vietnam’s history, humanizing numbers, facts and death tolls.
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Weaving fact and fiction, and linking the stories of several Vietnamese orphans, this is profoundly unique and impactful novel by Kim Thuy, translated by Sheila Fischman.

As a reader, I found I had to play an active role in reading this novel, filling in all that was left unsaid while also engaging with the unvarnished horrors that are presented. Kim Thuy pushed me to see and feel and experience more than was often comfortable. I felt it was my duty not to turn away, and was rewarded with an equally powerful sense of immeasurable resilience and deep humanity.
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Em is an amazing visual of the extreme atrocities of the war in Vietnam. I had a hard time reading this novel as the imagery was hard to take in. I think at a different time in my life I could appreciate this more as it was difficult to add to what we are all dealing with now. The writing is brilliant and as it is translated into English from French it is powerful and direct. Kim Thuy is a talented, honest, thorough writer. She is an author to watch as she writes with grace. Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read "Em".
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Em by Kim Thúy. Published in 2021 by Random House Canada. Translated to English from French by Sheila Fischman.
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I absolutely loved all of Kim Thúy's previous books: Ru, Mãn, and Vi so I was thrilled to get a copy of Em through Netgalley @netgalley
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As always, Thúy's writing exists somewhere between poetry and prose. Structured in micro-chapters that are often less than a page long, Em is a story about both the horrific violence of the Vietnam war (or rather the American war), as well as about chance connections between people.
Thúy's use of language is so thoughtful and precise that it is truly an impressive feat by Sheila Fischman to translate her works. Having read a couple of the books (Ru and Mãn) in the original French, I can attest that the translation is excellently done - although I will still likely reread Em in French when I get a chance.
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"The word em refers to the little brother or little sister in a family; or the younger of two friends; or the woman in a couple. I like to think that the word em is the homonym of the verb aimer, “to love,” in French, in the imperative: aime."
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So happy to have a chance to read this before the Giller Shortlist is announced. Kim Thuy has a unique voice. This novel has some heartbreakingly beautiful moments of tragedy and hope. I learned quite a bit about some parts of Vietnamese history, and more about the fluidity of relationships and families, and how quickly a life can shift paths and fortunes. Well deserved praise for Kim Thuy's latest - an easy recommend for handselling. Thank you
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At first the book seemed a little disjointed and I did struggle to get into it. The formatting was also a little off, making it harder to flow through the story. Once I got use to the formatting and realized how the stories were connecting, it flowed a lot better and I was able to immerse myself into the story.

It's a quick read, but it's harrowing at the same time. This is a real look at the people who lived through Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. We hear all about the U.S. soldiers who returned, but what about the women and children left behind? What trauma did this face? Em goes into that. And while it is harrowing and uncomfortable at times, it's also poetically written.

My full review is at: https://amazonadviser.com/2021/10/01/em-by-kim-thuy-review/
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EM by Kim Thúy translated from the French by Sheila Fischman is a great novel! I decided to read this book because it was long listed for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize and I’m so glad I did. As we travel from war torn Vietnam with orphans and single mothers we’re taken on a journey of resilience, hope, courage and love. Told through vignettes that jump from time and place and reveal history this novel feels part history book and memoir. I really enjoyed the unique writing style as facts are delivered and the expansive timeline. This short novel at 152 pages is the perfect length and concise while still evoking emotion and depth. I look forward to seeing if this book makes the shortlist!
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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada via NetGalley for my review copy!
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