Why Award-winning Writer Kim Thuy Always Has Time for Another Refugee

Kim Thuy has a laugh that bubbles with joy, but she has seen her fair share of sorrow. At the age of 10, she remembers the adventure and the fear in the journey from Viet Nam to Canada.

Below deck, her family was crowded in among 200 other people escaping on the boat. She knew it was daytime through a little hole at the far end of the vessel, but she didn’t see sunlight.

The experience in the Malaysian refugee camp comes back to her in a way she finds difficult to explain, and when she see news footage of recent refugee camps, she wonders, like many of us, how people survive. Then she wonders how did she and her parents survive, and yet she knows the story.

Her gratitude to Canada, she says she put in her first book, RU. Her warm memories of the lengths the people of the small town of Granby, Quebec, went to, to make her family comfortable and welcome, have her eagerly asking recent immigrants and refugees she now encounters, if they have what they need, and is there any way she can help.

Kim Thuy tells Carmel Kilkenny that winning the Governor General’s Award for literature for her first book, written in French, and now translated into English, was the beginning of an overwhelming experience for the former lawyer. It is an experience she is still coming to terms with.

Kim Thuy’s second novel, Man, is now available.

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