Sunday, December 21, 2014

Mara's Daughter

The corridor was dark. A bluish light came from the aquarium in the living room—my own aquarium I brought with me from school. I stood still to let my eyes become accustomed to the darkness. I could hear a soft whirring of the water pump. No light coming from beneath Faye’s door. I stepped toward the door, my heart thumping. Just one knock, and I would change everything. A thunderclap exploded, jolting me with sparks and splintered images—my mother’s and Uncle’s. Something inside me broke.

Sobered, I turned and tiptoed back to my room.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Review by Buried In Print

“Khanh Ha's Flesh, a visceral and harrowing read, serves as a brilliant companion for his new novel. Perhaps no sense is more integrally rooted in the story than the sights which are often both beautiful and harsh in the same instance. But whereas the tragic elements of experience seemed to engulf all other aspects of life in Flesh, there is a solid foundation of beauty in this work.

 Writers like Khanh Ha take the reader into ordinary and glorious places.”Buried In Print

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review by Savvy Verse & Wit

"The Demon Who Peddled Longing by Khanh Ha is about the darkness that can hover over our lives, and how we each can choose to bow to that pressure or stand up to it. . . . Personal demons to actual struggles with evil outside of ourselves can mark our journeys, but they do not have to define who we are."--Savvy Verse & Wit

Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Viral's Author of Choice

"An absolute joy, without the contrivance of undue complexity, Khanh Ha delivers not only an emotive read, but an exquisite and beautifully observed image of a world few of us will see with such absolute clarity. Recommended without reservation, The Demon Who Peddled Longing is highly deserving of your attention whilst BookViral has no hesitation in naming Khanh Ha our fourth ever author of choice."--Book Viral

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Literary Fiction Book Review

A highly evocative, poetic work . . . lovely novel by a refreshingly original author.
[Review Pick of November, Literary Fiction Book Review]

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Children of Icarus

"He sat down by her. He could hear her sharp intake of breath as he bent forward to seek her eyes. He saw the reddish marks on her jawline, on her throat. His heart contracted with a violent tug. Those marks left by the beastly rape could have passed for skin rash."--Mount Hope Magazine, Fall 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Teddy Rose Book Reviews

"This is the second book I have read by Khanh Ha and he does not disappoint.  His poetic prose is still hypnotic and I had a hard time putting the book down.  He writes almost like he is in a trance, observing what he writes firsthand.  I don’t really know how else to explain it. He takes his readers on incredible journeys through his homeland, Vietnam. Getting a taste of the culture and people.  He examines those deep dark places most would try to avoid; yet you can’t help but follow."--Teddy Rose Book Reviews

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Rhythmic Narrative Reality of Good Fiction

I was reminded last night, reading my friend Khanh Ha’s new novel, “The Demon Who Peddled Longing,” that good fiction writing is about creating a rhythmic narrative reality in which the reader loses him or herself. Derived from ordinary reality, this fictional reality becomes more vivid, heightened, than the former, every detail like a musical note resonating with emotional significance. In this way, good fiction galvanizes the essential parts of our being, awakens us to life. When you put down a good book, the world hums with fresh meaning. At least for a while, nothing is taken for granted.

I’m only 40 pages into my friend’s book. But I just read an eight-page scene revolving around the slow preparation and cooking of a snakehead fish, peddled from a merchant boat on a flooded river plain somewhere in Vietnam. The characters, a young drifter and an older fisherwoman who rescues him, are living in a rotted stilt house above the silt-dark floodwaters. The scene is slowly and meticulously rendered, and the everyday act of cooking and eating fish becomes something beautiful, revealing a mutual hunger both erotic and profound. The scene reminds me of the way Hemingway wrote about food.

A few excerpts:

Once he glanced up and he could see her watching him through her narrowed eyes. He could feel the heat of the fire tingling on his bare torso and he’d stop occasionally to wipe sweat off his face, his chest. She lowered her head to look at the underside of the fish, where the flames were browning its skin into tiny warts and the fat-filmed skin glistened…Tamarind paste, she said, rising to her feet. From a wall shelf, she picked up the fish-sauce jar, unplugged the cork and poured it into the bowl. Watching her stir the sauce into a deep amber liquid with red flecks, the spoon going round and round with tiny clinks, his mouth watered. The fish was smoking with a thin vapor hovering over its blistering skin and the air became permeated with a dark, fatty smell. She went to the cupboard and returned with a jar filled with crushed peanuts and motioned with her head toward the wall shelves. Get the liquor, she said. He lifted one of the two jugs of liquor on the floor beneath the shelves and grabbed an empty bowl, the plain blue crockery she used for drinking. On the rim of the hearth she had spread out a large banana leaf and, as he stood over her with the jug and the bowl, she lifted the fish by the rod and the tail and brought it down onto the leaf. It sizzled and white vapor rose up from the leaf. She sank the knife into the fish’s fat side and slit it open, letting out a steaming aroma….

And some more excerpts from later in the night:

“Before he was awake he saw himself lying on the dew-wet straw somewhere in the translucent dawn, and there was a black snake slithering through the leg of his pants and up to his crotch… He could feel her hand working feverishly, opened then closed, her wheezing coaxing her hand, small hisses between her teeth, the ripe sweet smell of rice liquor coming back again like it was part of her flesh. Then she stopped.”--Scott Neuffer, author of Scars of the New Order

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Inspire to Read

[Excerpt from The Demon Who Peddled Longing, on Inspire to Read Blog]

“Through binoculars the master watched her from the second-floor veranda. She slowed the horse to a walk along the canal, languidly flowing through the thick china fir grove that, from such a distance, was a mass of smoky green. In the grove’s dark shade, the air reeked of the pine cones’ scent and red squirrels and fox squirrels leaped from tree to tree. He remembered all that. Even the tiny chirps of crickets in the grass, the red wild strawberries like drops of blood in their patches, the late January wind damp to the bones coming from the sea. Those were all gone now. Now he could only live vicariously through her youthful body by watching her lose herself in the nature, to smell day heat on her perspiring skin when she came back in, the warmth of sun still held in the dense mass of her hair.”

Friday, November 7, 2014

Black Heart Magazine Review

Category:  Book Review
Reviewer:  Laura Roberts
Edition: November 7, 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Demon Who Peddled Longing

Available for order from:
  • Trade Paperback: 296 pages / $13.99 / 8.5 x 0.62 x 5.5 inches / ISBN: 978-0-9904331-1-8
  • Genre: Literary, Multicultural Fiction
  • Publisher: Underground Voices (November 21, 2014)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

All the Rivers Flow into the Sea

"That night she cried and heard her father stir and knew
he was awake hearing her. Her crying kept him awake a
long time, but he didn’t comfort her. Solitude had its own
moments. Bitter and sweet. It would eventually die into itself."

THRICE Fiction, Issue 11, August 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Drifter's Final Destination

"In his sleep he smelled the strong smells of horses and heard the sound of waves and, waking again, saw that it was getting gray in the sky and that the banks were yellow with riverhemp in bloom. Among them were gnarled trunks, like black giants, of the mangrove trees. It was drizzling and the wind came up from the land and he could smell the fragrance of cajeput flowers and soon he saw them, tiny and white, crowding the riverbank, the cajeput trunks wetly black like buffalo horns. The Plain now came into view, flat, immense and steely gray, without boundaries, brimming with floodwater. Past clumps of bushwillows with the tops of their bushes above the water, he heard moorhens calling, and rain now falling and popping like packets of broken needles on the surface of the water, the wind damp, and in that grayness a heron rising to air."
Provo Canyon Review, Vol. 2, Issue 3

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

All the Pretty Little Horses

"The smell of brandy hung in the air in
your bedroom. Light from the front porch gleamed on the white curtains.
The breeze carried in the earth-dry smell of grass. Afraid to wake you
from sleep, I lay down at the foot of the bed next to your feet under the
bedcover. I watched the curtains rise and fall in the breeze, listened to the
dry sounds of autumn leaves on the lawn, and finally no longer feeling the
tugging at my heart, I slept."

Wilderness House Literary Review
Summer 2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Bridge Behind

"He screamed, but the sound was lost in the clamor. The basket bobbed on the current, spun several times and then became an olive-colored patch downstream.

When the explosion splintered the bridge and dropped it into the turbulent river, the old man sat by the roadside in the rain and wept."

Eastlit Literary Journal, 2014 Summer Issue

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

the blue-ghost fireflies

Daniel Keyes, 86, author of the bestselling science fiction novel FLOWERSFOR ALGERNON (which began life as a Hugo Award-winning short story published in 1959, and published in expanded form in 1966) and many other works, died June 15 in South Florida from complications of pneumonia.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Quest

"One night, from the pagoda, he heard the flute again. From the edge of the back garden rimmed with whistling pines and wide-canopied rain trees, with their tiny leaves folded after dark, he could see the graveyard below where the hill dropped into blackness. The lamp at its gate burned like a yellow, wakeful eye."

2014 Spring Issue

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sleeping Beauty

"She giggles then winces and touches the bandaged bite. Her mussed-up hair, still wet, gives her an untamed look so pale so raw that for the first time I feel a man’s desire for her."

VERDAD, Spring 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Heartbreak Grass

If you'd like to order copies of the Greensboro Review, Spring 2014, Issue 95 ($8 an issue), you can mail a check here:

The Greensboro Review
MFA Writing Program
3302 MHRA Building
Greensboro, NC 27402-6170

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Story of the Week

  (Reprint with credit to The Permafrost Magazine, Winter 2014 Print Issue)