From the award winning author of ‘Flesh’, “Demons advocate love‒not the compassionate love devoid of possession and sexual desire. It’s the lustful love. They tempt humans with such lust, and the moment living beings fall for it, the demons will peddle longing to take them away.”
Thus, begins the terrible journey of a twenty-year-old boy in search of the two brothers who are drifters and who raped and killed his cousin also his girl.
Set in post-war Vietnam, The Demon Who Peddled Longing brings together the damned, the unfit, the brave, who succumb by their own doing to the call of fate. Yet their desire to survive and to face life again never dies, so that when someone like the boy, who is psychologically damaged by his family tragedy, who no sooner gets his life together after being rescued by a fisherwoman than falls in love with an untouchable girl and finds his life in peril, takes his leave in the end, there is nothing left but a longing in the heart that goes with him.
“Late at night she’d go bathing in the river. He’d lie awake, listening to the gentle sound of water she poured on her body, away from the lantern light, where water was chest high, cool and cloaked in blackness. When she came up, lowering her head to enter the domed cabin, she was a dark figure save the whiteness of her towel-wrapped head. He’d keep still and find sleep hard to come by in the scent of her body soap.”
“She was a teenager. Then her parents died, one after the other. She stayed with another family and every day she followed the dikes and the canals where hummingbird trees were in blossom and, with a hook-fitted bamboo rod, she’d cut their white flowers and gather them in a basket. From early morning until noon. And she sold them in the market. Then one day by a canal she met a fisherman who was a war veteran, then later a prisoner of war. He bought those white flowers from her on the day of his mother’s anniversary of death. He asked her to bring him fresh flowers every day, and she asked who else he needed to pay respects to. He said no one. One day he asked her to come on his boat and he cooked her a meal and it was on his boat that she saw all the flowers he’d bought lying wilted in a heap at the foot of his plank bed. She could smell their bad odors during the meal. Later she left the family who had taken her in and lived on the boat with the man.”
Praise for ‘Flesh’:
“The story is a sensual one, and the love affair in Flesh, too, is carried on in private, but these images have another, darker side.
The prose of Khanh Ha’s debut is laden with sensory details that pull readers into multi-dimensional scenes.
Readers need not worry if they have little familiarity with the political and geographical setting; Khanh Ha brings the world alive for readers with details that speak to the human experience in Flesh.
The themes of this work are sweeping and although only a couple of years pass, there are life-changing events which unfold, for both major and minor characters, in a historical context which will be unfamiliar to many Western readers, and which naturally envelops the characters in the novel.
The outstanding element of this novel is the solid invitation extended to readers, to enter this world which Khanh Ha has created in Flesh.”‒Buried In Print
“Ha’s prose is poetic as it paints the scene in which you can smell the opium, see and hear the brown of Tai’s village and the busy streets of Hanoi, and feel the delirium of smallpox or his pulse quicken as he begins to fall in love.
From the atmosphere to the myths and legends, Ha generates a novel that will capture readers from the beginning.
Flesh by Khanh Ha is a stunning debut novel that showcases the writer’s ability to become a young male narrator whose view of the world has been tainted by his life circumstances and tragedy, but who has the wherewithal to overcome and become a better man.”‒Serena, Savvy Verse & Wit
“Flesh is a dark, atmospheric historical fiction novel that captures life in Tonkin (northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century. Ha skillfully uses descriptive prose, in some instances it is almost poetic,and many of his descriptions evoke a sensory-filled reaction – sometimes ominous. The settings he describes can be filled with a sensual richness or evoke a sense of foreboding.
All in all, Flesh is highly recommended and I’ll be looking forward to what author Khanh Ha publishes next. I think he is definitely a writer to watch.”‒Lori, She Treads Softly
“Khanh Ha was born in Vietnam. This is his debut novel. Although the events are violent and disturbing, the writing itself is lyrical and haunting. The events seem to unfold in a dream, slowly revealing the stories that make up the intertwined lives of the characters. This book is recommended for readers interested in other cultures, and what family honor will drive men to do.”‒Sandie, Booksie’s Blog
“As I read Flesh, Khanh Ha’s debut novel, it seemed to me that the story is almost dreamlike. A dream in that early hours of a hot morning where you are still in between sleeping and waking up. Your conscious mind taps into your unforgotten but repressed memories which lash out in vicious force with unforgiving storylines. While not always bad, these dreams have a tendency to shape the day or the week with their brutal honesty and, quite honestly, make excellent stories.
Mr. Ha is a talented writer; he does a wonderful job setting the dark, yet poetic, mood and a fine job describing settings in vivid, smells, colorful imagery. Each chapter reads like a long lost memory, as if Tai was recalling his life in an older age and telling the story to a grandchild or an engaged reader.”‒Zohar, Man Of La Book
Khanh Ha is the author of Flesh (2012, Black Heron Press). He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and the recipient of Greensboro Review’s 2014 Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Waccamaw Journal, storySouth, Greensboro Review, The Long Story, Permafrost Magazine, Saint Ann’s Review, Moon City Review, Red Savina Review, DUCTS, ARDOR, Lunch Ticket, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Tayo Literary Magazine, Sugar Mule, Yellow Medicine Review, Printer’s Devil Review, Mount Hope, Thrice Fiction, Lalitamba Journal, and other fine magazines.
Book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23163554-the-demon-who-peddled-longing
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