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)