Thursday, September 19, 2019

"The Sweetest Fruits"

Born in Saigon, South Vietnam, Monique Truong came to the U.S. as a refugee in 1975. Her novels include The Book of Salt and Bitter in the Mouth.

Truong applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Sweetest Fruits, and reported the following:
I didn’t write one word on page 69 of The Sweetest Fruits. Thank goodness because there are glaring historical inaccuracies. I’m a writer of fiction, but my third novel is a work of historical fiction, and facts are its flying buttresses, star anchors, and tie rods (mixing disparate architectural eras here). Instead, the writer was Elizabeth Bisland, the first biographer of Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), a Greek-Irish author of over twenty books, who circumnavigated the world and who connected Elizabeth to the three women—Rosa, Alethea, and Setsu—whose first-person voices I did write. When Hearn passed away in Tokyo in 1904, he was well-respected and well-known as a Western expert on Japanese folklore, ghost stories, and cultural miscellany. Excerpts from Elizabeth’s biography of Hearn, published in the U.S. only two years after his passing, provide the official history of Hearn, while the voices of his mother and his two wives, the former born into slavery in Kentucky and the latter the daughter of a former samurai family in Matsue, Japan, calls that history into question. It’s this interplay between what is documented and what may have been lost or suppressed that is at the heart of The Sweetest Fruits.
--Monique Truong © 2019
Visit Monique Truong's website.

--Marshal Zeringue