MYSTERIOUS FRAGRANCE OF THE YELLOW MOUNTAINS
This is the novel prize-winning short-story writer Yasuko Thanh was born to write. Inspired by the story of her father’s family in Vietnam, it explores the little-known, dramatic history of the French in Indochina, and the nationalist rebellions against them.
The stories in this novel are Yasuko Thanh’s family’s stories. For political reasons, her grandfather was forced into hiding for two years during the Japanese occupation of Vietnam, after which time her grandmother and father set out to search for him. Falling somewhere between Kiran Desai’s Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, Edith Wharton’s Ethan Fromme, and The End of the Alphabet by C.S. Richardson, the novel promises a poetic, fantastic, darkly comic look at the cost of insurrection as well as the complications of falling in love at a time when historical conditions complicate it.
Little has been written about this fascinating time period, in either fiction or nonfiction. It’s easy to paint a picture of the evils of colonial domination; but, as with intimate relationships between people in love, the realistic portrayal of an uneven power dynamic is often more convoluted than a simple dichotomy between good and evil. The aggressor and victim intertwine, depending upon each other for their identities, routines, and even small joys.
Mysterious Fragrance of the Yellow Mountains is a novel for everyone who has asked: Is there anything you must believe in in order to be who you are? And at what cost? It will speak to those who have wanted to re-invent themselves, or who have struggled to live up to their own standards.
YASUKO THANH’s story collection Floating Like the Dead was published by McClelland & Stewart in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award and the BC Book Prize for Fiction. One story in it won an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Short Story. The title story was the Journey Prize winner for the best story published in Canada in 2009. Quill and Quire named Floating Like the Dead a best book of the year. CBC hailed Yasuko Thanh one of 10 writers to watch in 2013.
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