Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Flesh by Khanh Ha Excerpt and Giveaway!

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Khanh Ha

Page Count: 368
Release Date: 15 June, 2012
Black Heron Press

Set in Tonkin (now northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century, Flesh tells the story of a boy who witnesses the execution, by beheading, of his father, a notorious bandit, and sets out to recover his father’s head, and then find the man who betrayed his father to the authorities. A coming-of-age story of brutal self-awakening and also a tender love story, Flesh takes the reader into places, both dark and wonderful, in the human condition where allies are not always your friends, true love hurts, and your worst enemy can bring you the most solace.

Khanh Ha writes of the physical world with such sensuousness that he will make the reader’s heart ache. At the same time, though Flesh is his first novel, his knowledge of the human psyche is that of a fully mature writer. The title refers to temptation—the temptation of the flesh. But it refers equally to the obligations of kinship, the connections between us and those to whom we are related, even if we would choose not to be.

That evening I walked home alone. She didn’t come. I hoped she did not go out to sell opium. The evenings we spent together, we just walked through the city streets, sometimes with a shoulder bag clicking with wooden plates, and sometimes just wandering until her lantern burned out. We would then stop and light a new candle. It was the most wonderful time I ever had. The night before Mr. Cao Lai returned, we came back to her place in the rain and stood embracing each other outside the red door with her umbrella tilted back. Rain fell on our shoulders, on our napes. She asked if I would like to come in, and I hesitated for fear of being seen with her. But then I met her gaze and it coaxed me into nodding like a child. She blew out the lantern, and we walked like thieves across the courtyard, which was lit sporadically with white trembling flashes. The air was torn with loud claps of thunder. The house was cool, quiet. We slid across the tiled floor, dimly lit with an all-night kerosene lamp, the air redolent of an herbal scent so moist in the rain dampness. It followed us to her room. The room was dark, save the occasional glimmers of lightning outside the latticed window. Her pillow held the scent of her skin and in the dark, it burned with the warmth of our bodies. There was a noise at the door. We kept ourselves still. After a while she said in a hushed voice that it was the house cat. I said, “You ever wear your hair without a plait?” and she said, “Yes, but rarely,” and asked me why I wanted to know. I said that my mother wore hers around her head, and it was so long it hung down her back to her waist, and that the only time she let down her hair was after her bath, when it flowed to the ground like the banyan’s aerial roots. She smiled at my description, her teeth white in the dark. In the dark, she found the twists of her plait and undid them with her fingers and ran them through her hair, letting it fall over the pillow. It spread like black satin, and her whole body was a pale white. She opened her arms and held my face against her chest. Her skin was cool and her heart thumped against my ear. She asked if I had known any woman before her. Yes, I said, wanting to be pure at heart in her aura. “Tell me about her,” she said. I became a storyteller and she a curious listener. She asked if I loved the girl, and I said no and took her hand and pressed it against the side of my face as though to calm a sudden dark, alien agitation that stirred in my heart. “Do you love me?” she whispered. “Yes, I love you,” I said, but the palpitation in my heart beat on. “Do you love me no matter what happens?” she asked. “No matter what happens,” I said. “One day,” she said, “I will go back home. Will you go with me to Lijiang?” “Yes,” I said, “I will go wherever you want me to.” Then I closed my eyes. I saw a red poppy.

About the Author

Khanh Ha was born in Hue, the former capital of Vietnam. During his teen years he began writing short stories which won him several awards in the Vietnamese adolescent magazines. He graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism.

Flesh is Na's literary debut, which was released from Black Heron Press in 2012. He is currently at work on his next novel.


Thanks to the author and Premier Virtual Author Book Tours, there is one print copy of Flesh up for grabs! To enter, all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends January 31st at 11.59 EST (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
Although I will be selecting winners, I am in no way responsible for the prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus, you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!