Kim Thúy is a Canadian writer of Vietnamese descent and yesterday, the 8th of December, she was at Kyralina bookshop, the only French language bookshop in Romania, for the launch of her 4th book “Vi”, translated into Romanian by Alina-Daniela Marinescu.
Kim Thúy accidentally began writing in her 40s while driving back home from work and as a way of avoiding falling asleep at all the red lights.
She started with lists – of objects, of countries, of colours and slowly developed the writing bug. Family and friends encouraged her to continue with her first manuscript, but she could not even imagine how she would get from page 20 to 25, let alone page 120. She did and her first novel, “Ru”, was published in 2009 and it won multiple awards.
The author talked to Valentine Gigaudaut, director of Librairie Kyralina and Ileana Țăroi, the coordinator of the French Department for the International Romanian Radio, before an interested audience. Thúy is a mignon woman… or a “height challenged” person, as she described herself humorously. She may be petite but she sure filled the bookshop space from beginning to end laughing, hugging people, fully engaged in the evening.
Kim Thúy arrived in Quebec with her family at the age of 10, fleeing Vietnam on a boat. She first worked as a lawyer before running a restaurant for a number of years and then, turning 40, her first novel was published and to date she has published five books.
She often speaks in her interviews about the generosity of the Canadian people, about being a refugee and the wonder of seeing gleaming snow for the first time upon her arrival in Quebec, after transitioning from filthy refugee camps. She speaks about being a voice for all those “boat people” who didn’t make it, but listening to Thúy tell her stories is not a sad experience. She speaks of generosity and wonder and luck and the gratitude she feels for her life, that has led her from one thing to another and this is all infused in her words and it lights her face up… It made one glimpse that picture of a vast, bright field of snow, suddenly there in front of an unsuspecting 10 year old.
Another memorable part of the evening’s conversation was when Thúy talked about the books that inspired her the most and that she knows like the back of her hand. One of them is Tim O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story” and Thuy talked about how, from that book, she learned about the need to allow ourselves to see beauty even in those less obvious places or circumstances because that leads us to actively look for it and how this is a necessity not a luxury.
The entire conversation was recorded as part of the radio show “Le son des mots”, coproduced with RRI.