• Mãn

  • By: Kim Thúy
  • Narrated by: Kim Thúy
  • Length: 3 hrs and 5 mins
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Following on the Giller Prize-nominated and Governor General's Literary Award-winning success of Ru, Kim Thúy's latest novel is a triumph of poetic beauty and a moving meditation on how love and food are inextricably entwined.

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.

Mãn is a mystery - her name means "perfect fulfillment", yet she and her husband seem to drift along, respectfully and dutifully. But when she encounters a married chef in Paris, everything changes in the instant of a fleeting touch, and Mãn discovers the all-encompassing obsession and ever-present dangers of a love affair.

Full of indelible images of beauty, delicacy and quiet power, Mãn is a novel that begs to be savoured for its language, its sensuousness and its love of life.

©2014 Kim Thuy (P)2018 Random House Canada

Critic Reviews

"This slim, wondrous book tells a story of love, food, passion and life rooted between worlds." (Maclean's)

"A delicate and vital love story.... The writing is both heartbreaking and insistent." (Toronto Star)

"A story that is ageless and universal, and exquisitely told." (Winnipeg Free Press)

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Reminds me of Marguerite Duras

I read a lot of Marguerite Duras when I was younger, and this book reminded me of what kind of book would be written if a Vietnamese woman in Duras's colonizer literature (I say that with a kind of awareness and affection, because I love Duras, but she writes about French colonial Southeast Asia from the perspective of a white French woman) were to tell her own story. There is the shock of sudden romantic love that brings transgressive freedom, but this time it's not cross-cultural love, it's the coming-home of intracultural love *in contrast to* a cross-cultural love where the two people don't really understand each other. The main character sometimes seems "weak," "compliant," but at the same time, she is very successful, strong-willed, independent, and passionate. It's a short book but there's a lot going on: cross-cultural and intracultural tensions, tensions between languages (reminding me of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha), Vietnamese history, the history of Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants in Montreal, gender expectations and relations, etc. A very rich book.