A Translation That Speaks Volumes

Ru, by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman

by Yok Chaithanayot

"A Saigon Proverb: Doe la chine tran, neu buon la thua. Life is a struggle in which sorrow leads to defeat."

In the early 1950s, the Vietnam War occurred. Innocents had to run away from dangerous homes, and took the extreme journey that led to new places to live. This warfare is similar to a coin with heads and tails: its consequences were tragic, but we can look at war in the way that people look at a coin. The other sides, perhaps, all of those tolerances and sufferings, could turn out to be a fresh comfort.

Ru, written by Kim Thúy reveals an individual life journey which shifts between five major fragments: the wonderful childhood that got disrupted by the upcoming war, the voyage on boat which departs for landing in an immigrant's camp, a brand new life in Quebec, and the returning home. Despite the extended exaggeration and digressions throughout, Ru is rich in its respectfulness for displaying both different cultures and individual identity in the most adoring form.

The title for the novel "Ru" means lullaby in Vietnamese and it's a small stream or a flow of tear, blood and money in French. The name of the book is not only persuaded the desire of opening up the book's cover, "Ru" is also released the infinitesimal trance that guides to the discovery of stylistic writing. Only two years after being published, Thuy's first book in the French language, Sheila Fischmanm, an illustrious translator has fantastically shared the story with English readers. In 2010, the lively adventure of this one woman won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction.

Unlike other autobiography books, Ru has a slender appearance that is packed with more than hundreds pages which are formatted in a poetry-like feature. The novel is not written in chronologic order that follows existing dates or years as Thuy purposes for picture draws the next picture. The author has a preference to flip the time when An Ting, the main character, was in an overfull boat and suddenly moves Ting to be in Quebec in the next ten years. The non-chronological narrative writing approach enhances the difficulty in intensely comprehending the events that are happening. Additionally, with this type of technique, it allows readers to know how the novel is going to end, which decreases the reader's excitement or even loses the enjoyment. Nonetheless, the book is also suitable to serve those who wish to take a rest and relax.

Even though Ru consists of brief sentences in the pages, similar words are repeating continuously all over the book. The usage of duplicating the synonyms helps emphasize the author's willings. However, there are some occasions that she uses it excessively and unreasonably which then provokes a sense of overreaching while reading the book.

Due to the disadvantage of writing her first book in a second language, Thuy is deserving of a big round applause for Ru. Although technical devices and style that the author chose to apply are not quite remarkable, the beautiful plot and story that is happening thorough are perfectly rich of everything. It's a series of comedy and drama that is engaging while really hiding various lessons inside.

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A Translation That Speaks Volumes