ABOUT KHANH HA
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 graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Flesh is his first novel. He is at work on a new novel.
Years ago this is the type of book that I am not sure would have peaked my interest. I was pretty set in the types of books that I would read and that is not a good thing. Thankfully that changed and I found a whole new world of books. I can’t imagine having missed this one!
Flesh is the type of story that’s hard to put down once you get started. I always envisioned life in Vietnam (Annam) to be hard and according to this story, that is certainly true. But when young Tai sees his father beheaded his whole world changes. Not only is he the man of the family, he now has two duties : avenge his father’s death, and reunite his skull with the rest of his body to bring peace to his soul. Needless to say, his journey is not an easy one. Opium is the drug of choice, and in dealing with the addicts and dealers, he finds out more about humanity than you ever thought possible.
To describe the writing and flow of the story is almost impossible, as it is like nothing I have ever read before. You float through the story, stopping off on occasion to be jerked back into a story that will keep you reading into all hours of the night. A fantastic story with a prose like none I’ve ever read, I would highly recommend it. It has a little bit of everything, and even though it is a dark story of a young man seeking help in finding the traitor who caused the death of his father, I had a soft spot in my heart for many of the characters, and the plight they had to deal with.
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 acknowledge his bond, and his resemblance, to a man he barely knew-his father. Through this story of revenge is woven a 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.