A self-assured and stunning collection by an astonishingly gifted new writer, these stories - based on traditional Vietnamese tales - are sure to appeal to fans of Karen Russell, Jennifer Egan, Colson Whitehead, George Saunders, and Téa Obrecht. The Frangipani Hotel blends the old world and the new with fantastical, chilling, and original explorations of the ghosts that continue to haunt us: those of the Vietnam War.
THE RED VEIL
I don't want to bore you with my own history, with the reasons that I joined the order and the chronicles of my meandering faith; that is not my purpose here. But some background is, I feel, necessary. I sought out Sister Emmanuel during the first year of my novitiate because I was considering leaving the convent. I didn't want to approach Mother Superior for guidance: She was the classic Catholic nightmare, barking after naughty schoolboys with her ruler in hand. Sister Emmanuel was quiet, and from time to time I encountered her taking early morning walks around the garden of the Stations of the Cross. She was a stoop-backed woman with white hair and nut-brown skin crosshatched with wrinkles, and she was always wearing a kind smile and an enormous pair of dark, square sunglasses. I had never seen her without the glassesshe even wore them during Massand for this she had acquired secret nicknames like "Sister Kim Jong-il" and "the Terminator" from ...
Kupersmith's wit is effortless, and she employs a particularly impressive mixture of first- and third-person approaches. Her knowledge of Vietnamese history, both ancient folktales and post-War reconstruction, is masterful, yet she so carefully interweaves this material with her storylines that nothing ever seems superfluous.
(Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).
Full Review (1138 words).
As evidenced in The Frangipani Hotel, Vietnam abounds with mythology and ghost stories. In the country's creation myth, Dragon Lord Lạc Long Quân and his fairy wife, Au Cợ, hatched their 100 children from eggs, giving rise to Vietnam's 100 family surnames. Lạc Long Quân had an undersea palace at the southern coast, but Au Cợ and 50 children stayed in the northern mountains, thus peopling the country's two distinct terrains. In Kupersmith's story "Red Veil," Sister Emmanuel recounts this legend before embarking on her personal history: "I will start at the very beginning—the beginning we all were taught as children. Thousands of years ago, a dragon prince and a fairy spirit fell in love..." Thus ...
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