Kim Thuy, speaker was born in Vietnam in 1968. At the age of 10 she left Vietnam along with a wave of refugees commonly referred to in the media as “the boat people” and settled with her family in Quebec, Canada. A graduate in translation and law, she has worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer, restaurant owner and food columnist for radio and television. She lives in Montreal and devotes her life to writing.
Kim Thúy has received many awards, including the Governor General’s Literary Award in 2010, and was one of the top 4 finalists of the Alternative Nobel Prize in 2018. Her books have sold more than 730,000 copies around the world and have been translated into 29 languages and distributed across 39 countries and territories.
Kim Thúy’s debut novel, Ru, became a runaway success upon publication in 2009 by Libre Expression. A bestselling title in Quebec and France, Ru was translated into twenty-eight languages, earning an array of literary awards, including Canada’s prestigious Governor General’s Award in 2010, the 2010 Grand prix RTL-Lire at the Paris Book Fair, Italy’s Premio Mondello per la Multiculturalità Award in 2011 and the 2011 Archambault Literary Award. Ru was also shortlisted for the Prix des cinq continents de la francophonie Award in 2010 and a finalist in 2012 for the esteemed Giller Prize, awarded to Canada’s best book. The English translation won the Canada Reads book battle in 2015 and was proclaimed “the” book to read in Canada that year.
Ru is a mosaic of very short stories that play off each other the way a wind chime jingles in the breeze. The first sentence of a chapter tends to pick up on the idea where the previous chapter left off, bridging the gap between the events the narrator experiences in her life: born in Vietnam during the war, she and her family flee their home with the boat people and are welcomed as refugees in a small town in Quebec. She later goes on to higher education, starts a family and discovers life with an autistic child. The writer pens a tale of a life filled with charming, unique characters and a happy-go-lucky approach to the most absurdly challenging of situations, tugging expertly at the reader’s heart strings
À toi (Yours)
Kim Thúy’s second title, À toi (Yours), was co-written with Pascal Janovjak and published in September 2011. Emerging from a rare literary complicity, this meditative correspondence traces the path of two children of exile and nomads through memories and anecdotes. The novel was selected by Radio-Canada as
part of its Top 100 Incontournables list for 2016 and the audiobook version is available online.
The author’s third book, mãn, was shortlisted for the Prix des cinq continents de la francophonie Award in 2014 and has been translated into thirteen languages. The English paperback version was a Barnes & Noble Discovery Pick in the United States in the autumn of 2015.
Mãn has three mothers. The teenager who gives birth to her and abandons her; the nun who plucks her from the vegetable garden of a Buddhist temple on the banks of the Mekong River; and her beloved Maman, a teacher forced to become a spy. For her safety, Maman sends Mãn to live with a restaurant owner in Montreal, whom she then marries. In this new world, Mãn develops her natural talent for cooking, an art she learns can not only nourish the body but also distill memories, emotions and sensual pleasure, one dish at a time. When she meets a Parisian chef, she encounters the dangers of passionate love and discovers how
love and food are inextricably entwined.
mãn is a refined work of delicate beauty and a lesson in the meaning of the word “love”.
Published in 2016, Kim Thúy’s most recent novel is the story of Vi, the youngest of four children and the only girl, the family’s little treasure whose name means “precious, tiny one”. Vi tests personal boundaries and crosses international ones, letting the winds of life buffet her. From Saigon to Montreal, from Suzhou to Boston, growing up in the midst of everyday heroes, she is witness to the immensity of the ocean, the intricate fabric of luxury, sorrow and peace, the complexity of love, the infinite possibilities before her and the violence of beauty. Ever the quiet observer, somehow Vi must find a way to finally take her place in the world.
L’Autisme expliqué aux non-autistes (New Ways of Understanding Autism)
L’Autisme expliqué aux non-autistes (New Ways of Understanding Autism) embodies a cause dear to Kim Thúy as the mother of an autistic teenager. Using the method developed by autism experts Brigitte Harrisson and Lise St-Charles, founders of the SACCADE centre for autism, enabled her to truly understand and connect with her son Valmond, and she has since encouraged the specialists, one of whom is autistic herself, to publish their insight for readers. Their book is an accessible guide for parents of autistic children, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) care providers and members of the general public looking for a way to connect and understand more about this neurological disorder.
Le Secret des Vietnamiennes (Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen)
Kim Thúy serves up more than 50 recipes from her home country—many accompanied by a short text, an extract from a novel or an anecdote—offering readers an extraordinary glimpse into the writer’s private world. In collaboration with sommelier Michelle Bouffard, the bestselling writer suggests wine pairings for Vietnamese dishes, as well as introducing readers to some harder-to-find ingredients and offering tips for substitutions. Fans of Vietnamese cuisine will appreciate her explanations of the different types of noodles and vermicelli, herbs and fruit.
L’Estime de soi et l’Autiste (Autism and Self-Esteem)
After weighing in on L’Autisme expliqué aux non-autistes (New Ways of Understanding Autism) written by two experts in autism, Kim Thúy draws on personal experience as the parent of an autistic teenager to add her voice to this complementary book about how individuals with autism build identity.
With their earlier book, L’Autisme expliqué aux non-autistes (New Ways of Understanding Autism) the authors threw a lifeline to many parents and caregivers by helping them understand the hows and whys of certain frustrating behavioural issues. This second book explores how those with autism can create a better life in a world full of neurotypical people. Caregivers must be especially mindful of the reality for those with autism when helping them to build a sense of identity and self-esteem. This book explains how the two fundamental aspects of developing self-esteem for those with autism—competence in areas they feel are important and validation from significant people in their environment—help them to cultivate social awareness.
Le Poisson et l’oiseau (The Fish and the Bird)
Kim Thúy’s first picture book, Le Poisson et l’oiseau (The Fish and the Bird) was born when she dreamed that a little girl had forgotten to close the door to her pet bird’s cage. Close by, the goldfish in his bowl tries to strike up a conversation with the bird. But how can they play together with all the differences that set them apart? How might they come to love each other when they have nothing in common? The answer lies somewhere in the spreading of the bird’s wings and the graceful flapping of the fish’s gills.
Written in the form of a poem and superbly illustrated by Rogé, Le Poisson et l’oiseau (The Fish and the Bird) is a tribute to beauty and the differences between us.