Monday, July 13, 2020

THE SWEETEST FRUITS


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The Sweetest Fruits, Monique Truong, Viking, 2019, 292 pp
 
I don't remember how I discovered Monique Truong in 2008, but I fell in love with her first novel, The Book of Salt. Her first name rhymes with unique, appropriate because she writes novels that are not quite like any others. I am always on the lookout for such novels.
 
Ms Truong came to America in 1975 as a Vietnamese refugee at the age of six. She has a BA in Literature from Yale, a law degree from Columbia and works in intellectual property law. She is gifted with a huge imagination.

The main character in The Sweetest Fruits is Lafcadio Hearn, a 19th century writer, but he is only portrayed from the viewpoint of three women: his Greek mother, his first wife (a Black woman in Cincinnati, OH) and his second wife (a Japanese woman he married when he lived his last years in Japan.)

Lafcadio made his living as a newspaper writer but is remembered for his books about Japanese culture, legends and ghost stories.

What made the novel so enjoyable was the voices of each of these women. All three loved him unconditionally despite his many quirks, his unfaithfulness (yes, a man can be unfaithful to his mother) and his domineering personality.

The amount of social commentary indulged in by the author might have overwhelmed the story, but by putting this in the mouths of three women, it comes across with humor and compassion. I don't imagine the world would be perfect if women were in charge but I'll tell you this. If you want to get to the heart of things, ask a woman!

16 comments:

  1. i've read some Hearn: he liked ghost stories... this seems like a needed study; i don't know of any bios of LH...

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    1. I could not find any bios. Just some Wikipedia stuff. Apparently she was working on something related to his intellectual property in her day job and decided to put some of it into fiction. I was pretty sure you must have read some of his work.

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  2. You come up with some unique books. The background and cover appeals to me.

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    1. Yes, I am always on the lookout for something a bit different. When I find a unique author I like, I try to read as many of their books as I can.

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  3. It makes me very happy to read of this kind of success by a Vietnamese immigrant in view of the anti-immigrant expressions so commonplace today. Immigration renews and revitalizes society.

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  4. I am intrigued. Adding it to my list.

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  5. The author includes social commentary on all sorts of things? Apparently the countries with female leaders are doing better with Covid than their male counterparts ... just saying ...

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  6. Sounds fascinating! I've never heard of this author before.

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    1. It has been a while since her last novel. I am so glad she is still writing.

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  7. This is the first time I'm hearing of this author but I'm going to check out her books! They sound very good.

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    1. I hope you like her as much as I do.

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  8. I definitely agree on your take in regards to the social commentary, some people just need to hear it a certain way, and this is a wonderful way to do it, sounds like.

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