"The word em refers to the little brother or little sister in a family; or the younger of two friends; or the woman in a couple. I like to think that the word em is the homonym of the verb aimer, “to love,” in French, in the imperative: aime."
Em is a heartwrenching and heartwarming story about the Vietnam War and its aftermath, told through short vignettes and following a small cast of characters back and forth in time. It makes a person feel furious and hopeless about the fact of war.
This is a short book with short chapters and beautiful prose, which makes it an easy book to read. It deals with heavy topics, which makes it a hard book to read. The writing is poetic and evocative. I had a hard time getting into the writing style when I read Vi by the same author, but with this book I didn’t have that issue. It is translated from French, and I think reading it in the original language would be the best experience.
For those who are ignorant, as I am, about the American (Vietnam) War – if you can handle reading about the horror and brutality – I highly recommend this book. I’m adding Kim Thuy to my list of favourite Canadian authors.