Flesh by Khanh Ha

Flesh by Khanh HaFor a long time now I hadn’t felt it, the acidity of vengeance. Maybe when you harbored it for so long, the pain would torment you as if you had killed someone – the pain would follow you until you paid in full.

Author Khanh Ha’s moody and atmospheric debut novel, Flesh, takes place in Annam (modern-day Vietnam) around the turn of the 20th century and follows several years in the life of Tài, a poor, young villager we meet as he and his family are forced to watch the execution by beheading of his father.

Though Tài’s father was a bandit, he was respected amongst his people and his killing places upon Tài, now the eldest male in his family though only an early teen, the obligation of preserving the family’s honor.

To do so, Tài must accomplish two tasks: seek vengeance upon the man who betrayed his father, and unify his father’s skull with his body so that he may properly be laid to rest.

Told in a series of almost dream-like reflections by a now septuagenarian Tài, Flesh follows the brutally fast coming of age Tài is forced to endure as he ventures from his sheltered village life out into a city teaming with exotic sights, sounds, and smells.

And dangers, as along the way Tài finds both love and peril, learning that the two often go hand in hand and that everything in life requires a price to be paid.

A lush, poetic tale, Flesh takes readers on a journey far beneath the surface of a land most have only glimpsed superficially in clichéd Hollywood films. And though the dialog and character interactions are at times a bit stilted, that’s not what you will ultimately take away from Flesh. Where Khanh Ha excels, and what you will be unable to easily shake, are the deeply evocative descriptions of daily life in Annam. From the hand-to-mouth struggle in the villages to stave off disease and starvation to the enticing sensuality of the city’s opium dens, Khanh Ha coaxes Tài’s world to life in a vibrantly palpable manner.

A boldly confident coming of age story of a young man psychologically scarred by violence and driven by familial loyalty and societally imposed moral obligations, readers willing to venture off the beaten path to an unfamiliar land will find great pleasure exploring Khanh Ha’s Flesh.

Flesh is available from Black Heron Press (ISBN: 978-0930773885).

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 his first novel. To learn more about Khanh Ha, visit his website.

– Flesh by Khanh Ha –

Be sure to visit all of Khanh Ha’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS


  • Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours

    July 20, 2012 - 12:51 PM

    “venture off the beaten path” is a great phrase to describe this book. It sounds amazing!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

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  • Buried In Print

    July 16, 2012 - 7:36 PM

    Right off you’ve mentioned one of the aspects of this novel that I most enjoyed: the sense of atmosphere. It’s so strong, whether lush or stark scenes; I’m eager to see what subjects he’s considering for a second novel.

  • sabrina ogden

    July 13, 2012 - 4:24 PM

    Amazing review. The cover is pretty intense. I’m assuming my eyes aren’t just playing tricks on me… as I’m searching for all of the images.

  • Khanh Ha

    July 13, 2012 - 2:08 PM

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for writing up a review of FLESH. This is one luminous review that makes one’s heart tremble with humility. Yes, I had trepidation while reading it; but the apprehension is eventually sedated with appreciation. In fact, I was coming off reading another review on Google Book Review where someone said, ‘This is one book that, once you’ve put it down after finishing, you’ll find yourself thinking of its characters for days to come.’ Then reading your closing statement, it gave me a warm feeling of happenstance.