Kim Thúy, Ru (Vintage Canada, 2012)

untitledWinner of last year’s Governor-General’s award for fiction, Ru is a lyrical account of a young woman’s journey from the elite of South Vietnam to boat person to immigrant in the cold of Quebec’s Eastern Townships.  Variously gentle, sensual and brutal, the story is told in short chapters that are close to blank verse, such is the poetic use of language (originally in French, and translated by the brilliant Sheila Fischman).  Tiny character sketches are memorable, as is the prevailing sense of sad struggle.  Some reviewers have called Ru a “meditation,” a description I find appropriate.