Friday, April 5, 2013

HFVBT: {Review and Giveaway} Flesh by Khanh Ha

My thoughts:
Unfortunately, this is going to be a short review because I was reading a lot of it through a terrible migraine. Let this be a lesson. Don't wait until the last minute to read your review books thinking you will be able to pull off a mammoth/all night reading session. Something always comes up. Lesson learned...I think!

I can still say that Flesh is quite a work of historical fiction. I know very little about Vietnam and its history. I basically have a limited knowledge of the war in Vietnam and that's about it. Khanh Ha has really brought turn of the century Annam (now Vietnam) to life. Tai's story is shocking and poignant. To see your father beheaded for the crimes he committed would be such a traumatic experience. What we learn early on is that honor is very important in Tai's culture and he is on a quest to find his father's skull and the man who betrayed his father in order to honor him. It's quite a journey.

I've noticed that others have remarked of the dark, dream-like, or moody quality of Ha's writing. What I liked the most was his use of rich historical detail to tell what really is a great story. This is my first foray into Asian literature (long overdue) and I am very pleased. I look forward to future works by Mr. Ha. Definitely give this one a read, dear readers.

About the book:
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.

Visit the other stops on this tour HERE
Twitter Hashtag: #FleshVirtualTour

GIVEAWAY: I have one hardcover copy of Flesh for one winner! Open to US, CAN, AUS & England. To enter, leave a comment below. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact the winner. Last day to enter will be Friday, April 26 at 11:59pm CST. Good luck!


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Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. It means so much.

I apologize for word verification, but as soon as I changed the settings from only users with Google accounts, I started receiving a ton of spam comments...within one hour of changing the settings. The bots are on high alert apparently.

  1. Thank you for sharing!


  2. Sounds like an interesting book, but no need to enter me.

  3. I've never read a book set in Vietnam & I must say this book does sound amazing.


  4. Awesome, sounds like an amazing book, I love histfic!

    Diamond @

    Diamondnazaneen @ gmail (dot) com

  5. I also try to pull a marathon read every now and then (usually due to me miss judging a book) and I know that it is difficult, can't do it with a migraine thought. I liked Flesh as well (, seemed to me like a bad dream book ended by beheadings.

  6. Having problems leaving a comment, I hope you don't get multiples.

    Not a culture or a period in its history I know a lot about so I'd be delighted to be included in your giveaway.

  7. As I shared on GoodReads, this sounds like a really interesting book! I am currently reading and collecting books dealing with Asian literature so please include me in the giveaway!

    Create With Joy

    createwithjoy (at) gmail (dot) com

  8. I'm going to love this. I just know it. :-D

  9. I can totally understand about that. I try never to procrastinate with things I have to get done by a certain date because I never know if I will have a migraine or a fibro flare up. I can just wake up one day and be unable to move so I have to be proactive. You still managed to do pretty well considering!!

  10. Sounds very interesting to me. I would love a chance to read it. Please enter me. Thanks!


  11. Great review, and I’m so glad Flesh gave you a pleasant change from your
    normal reading material. I, too, am a junkie when it comes to learning
    about other cultures.

    Maycee Greene (TRUSTprice - Software Download)

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