I’m currently reading The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith. It’s a collection of short stories based on traditional Vietnamese folk tales. At three stories into the book I can already tell this collection is special. The stories I’ve read so far are at once beautiful and chilling. Kupersmith has created a world where ghosts exist and the people who come into contact with them are left forever changed. I’m taking my time reading it, because I want to savor the stories. It’s that good. The book is a slim volume at 256 pages, and I can normally read a book of that length in one sitting. However, when I picked it up yesterday to read it I knew I needed to ponder each story a bit after finishing each of them. In a day or two I’m going to post a review of The Frangipani Hotel, but I want you to read about the book and the heaps of praise it’s received before I put up my review.
About The Frangipani Hotel:
An extraordinarily compelling debut—ghost stories that grapple with the legacy of the Vietnam War
A beautiful young woman appears fully dressed in an overflowing bathtub at the Frangipani Hotel in Hanoi. A jaded teenage girl in Houston befriends an older Vietnamese gentleman she discovers naked behind a dumpster. A trucker in Saigon is asked to drive a dying young man home to his village. A plump Vietnamese-American teenager is sent to her elderly grandmother in Ho Chi Minh City to lose weight, only to be lured out of the house by the wafting aroma of freshly baked bread. In these evocative and always surprising stories, the supernatural coexists with the mundane lives of characters who struggle against the burdens of the past.
Based on traditional Vietnamese folk tales told to Kupersmith by her grandmother, these fantastical, chilling, and thoroughly contemporary stories are a boldly original exploration of Vietnamese culture, addressing both the immigrant experience and the lives of those who remained behind. Lurking in the background of them all is a larger ghost—that of the Vietnam War, whose legacy continues to haunt us.
Violet Kupersmith’s voice is an exciting addition to the landscape of American fiction. With tremendous depth and range, her stories transcend their genre to make a wholly original statement about the postwar experience. (Summary provided by Spiegel & Grau.)
Praise for The Frangipani Hotel
“In this auspicious volume, Kupersmith has reshaped and womanhandled traditional Vietnamese folktales that her grandmother told her into a wildly energetic, present-tense fusillade of short stories. . . . In perhaps the most pungent story here, a young woman who works the graveyard shift stocking shelves at Kwon’s World Grocery in suburban Houston befriends an old man she finds standing naked beside a Dumpster. His problem: He occasionally turns into a fourteen-foot python. ‘I am just a very old man who is sometimes a python,’ the man tells the woman. ‘But you, my child, are a creature far more complex.’ One might suspect that Kupersmith, who is working on her first novel, is that creature.”—Ben Dickinson, Elle
“Violet Kupersmith has woven together culture, tradition, family, and ghosts to create a series of short stories that are as fresh as they are mesmerizing. These stories will haunt you long after the last words have drifted off the page.”—Lisa See
“Surgically precise and feverishly imaginative.”—Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger’s Wife
“This first collection introduces a writer to watch and belongs in any library serving a short story readership.”—Booklist
“What is most haunting in Kupersmith’s nine multilayered pieces are not the specters, whose tales are revealed as stories within stories, but the lingering loss and disconnect endured by the still living. . . . [A] mature-beyond-her-years debut.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“These polished stories mark Kupersmith, who is in her early twenties, as one to watch.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In this impressive debut, Violet Kupersmith displays a remarkable gift for voice and setting. Using history and horror, mystery and imagination, she has created this vivid collection of haunted and haunting stories.”—Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and The Jane Austen Book Club
About The Author:
Violet Kupersmith graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2011 and then spent a year in Vietnam on a Fulbright teaching fellowship. She is currently at work on a novel.
For more reviews and news regarding The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith check out these stops on her TLC Book Tour:
Monday, March 3rd: Bibliophiliac
Tuesday, March 4th: The Things You Can Read
Wednesday, March 5th: Savvy Verse and Wit
Tuesday, March 11th: The Written World
Tuesday, March 11th: Books a la Mode – author guest post
Wednesday, March 12th: River City Reading
Thursday, March 13th: Under My Apple Tree
Monday, March 17th: 1330 V
Wednesday, March 19th: Melody & Words
Monday, March 24th: A Bookish Way of Life
Tuesday, March 25th: Suko’s Notebook
Wednesday, March 26th: Lit and Life
Thursday, March 27th: Too Fond
Monday, March 31st: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Tuesday, April 1st: Mandy Boles: Life Between Books
Wednesday, April 2nd: Guiltless Reading
Thursday, April 3rd: Books and Movies
Friday, April 4th: The Relentless Reader
Monday, April 7th: The Lost Entwife
Tuesday, April 8th: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, April 9th: girlichef
FTC Disclosure: I receive a commission on all purchases made through using the Amazon and ShopSense links on this site. I received a review copy of The Frangipani Hotel from Spiegel & Grau as part of a TLC Book Tour.