Flesh by Khan Ha
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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.
Recommended: Intricate world-building, definitely recommend checking out.
Recommended Ages: 18 and Up
Flesh held a huge interest as a book blogger to actually review since it delves into deep topics in which mean the both horrible and equally beautiful aspects of the human condition.
Flesh is supposed to be a novel about Tai, a young boy, who during 20th century Vietnam sees his father’s beheading by his own uncle who happens to be an executioner. Soon after this, he decides to look for his father’s skull that the authorities have taken away in a show of disrespect. You see in those times Vietnamese sons and daughters were to respect their parents by becoming responsible for them by securing them well-placed resting grounds. In Flesh, we see this well enough. Tai’s strong search for having a way to attain respectable graves for his family leads him to powerful men in Mr. Chim and later much more importantly to Mr. Cao Lai. Tai learns more out of life through Mr. Cao Lai and while living with Mr. Cao Lai also soon encounters his first venture in to the entanglements of love.
In Flesh, Khan Ha writes at his own pace that much is obvious from a delicate realism seen in the novel. He wants you to take your time reading where you will be rewarded into a look into 20th century Vietnam. A Vietnam that wasn't always fantastic but its people lived for what they lived. For a book such as Flesh, you should enjoy its cultural aspect to a higher degree than its actual plot even more so since occasionally things aren't always clear but left up to the reader.
In all seriousness its an involving book with intuitive characters that will most definitely hold one’s interest.
Overall: Amazing read!
Genre: Historical Fiction
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About the authorKhanh 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. He is at work on a new novel. Connect with Khanh on his website, blog, Facebook, GoodReads, or Twitter.