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Summary and book reviews of The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith

The Frangipani Hotel

Stories

by Violet Kupersmith

The Frangipani Hotel
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2014, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2015, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster

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Book Summary

These stories - based on traditional Vietnamese tales - 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.

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 glasses—she even wore them during Mass—and for this she had acquired secret nicknames like "Sister Kim Jong-il" and "the Terminator" from ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

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).

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Media Reviews
Booklist

This first collection introduces a writer to watch and belongs in any library serving a short story readership.

Kirkus Reviews

At her best, Kupersmith writes lyrically haunting tales; she's a writer to watch.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The stories shimmer with life. The heat and tumult of Vietnam's cities are palpable, and the awed wonderment of humans confronted with supernatural occurrences is artfully conveyed. These polished stories mark Kupersmith, who is in her early 20s, as one to watch.

Library Journal

Starred Review. The wunderkind moniker will soon enough be attached to the 1989-born Kupersmith, who wrote most of these stories as a Mt. Holyoke undergraduate. Her mature-beyond-her-years debut deserves equal shelf space with other spare, provocative collections, such as Paul Yoon's Once the Shore, Lauren Groff's Delicate Edible Birds, and Yoko Ogawa's Revenge.

Author Blurb Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger’s Wife
Surgically precise and feverishly imaginative

Author Blurb Lisa See
Violet Kupersmith has woven together culture, tradition, family, and ghosts to create a series of short stories that are as fresh as they are mesmerizing. These stories will haunt you long after the last words have drifted off the page.

Reader Reviews
Diane S

The Frangipani hotel
The Frangipani is an old run down hotel in Saigon and where the story, Reception, takes place. One of my favorites and the story that had the most humor. I loved all of these stories, ghost tales and folk tales all having some hidden meaning to the ...   Read More

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Vietnamese Legends

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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