Flesh by Khanh Ha

Flesh by Khanh Ha
Publisher: Black Heron Press
Publication Date: June 2012
Categories: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Source: Premier Virtual Author Book Tours


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.

My Thoughts:

Moody and almost dreamlike, Flesh is a luscious read. Khanh Ha does a fantastic job of describing the sights and smells of Tonkin. I’d never eaten the food described or smelled opium before but now I feel that I have. The sensory details made this book come alive for me.

I also enjoyed the bones of the story. It’s a coming of age tale in a place and time that I couldn’t imagine before now. The love story is gentle, believable and heartbreaking in the best way.

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.  He is at work on a new novel.
Visit the author at:

18 thoughts on “Flesh by Khanh Ha

  1. Thank you, Jennifer, for your very honest opinion. I'm always surprised to read my reader's viewpoints, their reactions, and their feelings about my book. It's a revelation, to a certain degree, to see how people take on a book. To an author it's like seeing his work in multiple personalities. And to me, it's a nice little secret.


  2. The cover makes it look a little creepy. I'm glad to know it's dark without being spooky. I can do sad and brutal, but scary stories are not usually my cup of tea!


  3. It sounds really great.I agree with Michell, the beginning likes brutal, but I think it makes you get involved in the story; I'm sure I would like it. Glad to hear you enjoyed the book.


  4. This book sounds very intense! I will have to read it. I just read a book set in Vietnam, but it was a middle grade book. Still very good. Since I read it, and it was heavy on food imagery, I am going to eat at a Vietnamese restaurant this weekend. I am looking forward to trying the cuisine. 🙂 This is a great review, definitely made me want to read the book .


  5. \”Moody and almost dreamlike\” … that's a good way to describe this book. I thought this was a beautiful novel; I'm glad you did too.


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