THE BEAUTY OF HUMANITY MOVEMENT

Camilla Gibb

Maggie, an art curator who is Vietnamese by birth but who has lived most of her life in the United States, has returned to her country of origin in search of clues to her dissident father’s disappearance. She remembers him only in fragments, as an injured artist from whom she and her mother were separated during the war. In her journey, Maggie finds herself at a makeshift pho stall, where the rich aroma of beef noodle soup lures people off Hanoi’s busy streets and into a quiet morning ritual.

Old Man Hung, the enlightened proprietor of the beloved pho stall,

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Maggie, an art curator who is Vietnamese by birth but who has lived most of her life in the United States, has returned to her country of origin in search of clues to her dissident father’s disappearance. She remembers him only in fragments, as an injured artist from whom she and her mother were separated during the war. In her journey, Maggie finds herself at a makeshift pho stall, where the rich aroma of beef noodle soup lures people off Hanoi’s busy streets and into a quiet morning ritual.

Old Man Hung, the enlightened proprietor of the beloved pho stall, has survived decades of poverty and political upheaval. Hung once had a shop that served as a meeting place for dissident artists. As Maggie discovers, this old man may hold the key to both her past and her future.

Among Hung’s most faithful customers is Tu’, a dynamic young tour guide who works for a company called New Dawn. Tu’ leads tourists through the city, including American vets on war tours, but he has begun to wonder what it is they are seeing of Vietnam-and what they miss entirely. In Maggie, he finds a young Americanized woman in search of something quite different, leading him beyond his realm of expertise. In sensual, interwoven narratives, Maggie, Hung, and Tu’ come together in a highly charged season that will mark all of them forever.

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  • Penguin
  • Hardcover
  • March 2011
  • 320 Pages
  • 9781594202803

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$25.95

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About Camilla Gibb

Camilla Gibb was born in London, England, and grew up in Toronto. She has a B.A. in anthropology and Middle Eastern studies from the University of Toronto, completed her Ph.D. in social anthropology at Oxford University in 1997, and spent two years at the University of Toronto as a post-doctoral research fellow before becoming a full-time writer. Gibb has been writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto and the University of Alberta. She is currently an adjunct faculty member of the graduate creative writing program at the University of Guelph and will be the Barker Fairley Distinguished Visitor at the University of Toronto this fall.

Praise

“Gibb’s fictional portrait of contemporary Vietnam should be essential reading for anyone mulling a visit to Hanoi, whose profusion of motorbike traffic and culinary aromas issues from these pages with graphic verisimilitude. Gibb uses the city’s street food and thriving art scene to reflect both continuity and change…”—New York Times Book Review

“Camilla Gibb drapes her story over good strong bones—characters (including the grandson of a poet friend of Hung’s) that span several generations, the nobility of the artists in contrast to the war and its political players. But the true beauty of the novel radiates from the details—the smell of the soup, the feeling of the early-morning streets, the sense of community in poverty and the community woven by memories.”—Los Angeles Times

“Gibb has made a loving, wise, tender, dreamy and insightful work of fiction about a loosely linked group of ordinary citizens trying to make the most in contemporary Hanoi.”—NPR, All Things Considered

“Well written and engaging, with characters that represent the participants and consequences of a country in the middle of great change, this work is recommended where [Amy] Tan and similar authors are appreciated.”—Library Journal