Photo by Nguyen Phuong Thuy.
Gival Press is pleased to announce that Her: The Flame Tree by Khanh Ha of Silver Spring, Maryland has won the Gival Press Novel Award, which includes a cash prize of $3,000.00. The novel was chosen by this year’s judge Elizabeth Harris. The novel will be released in the fall of 2023.
“Her: The Flame Tree is a beautiful novel, rich with evocations of natural setting in coastal Vietnam; remembered action going back more than a hundred years; and characters both extraordinary and poignantly ordinary, developed by layer upon layer of stories.
The primary narrator, the Vietnamese-American Minh ‘as a young writer looking for material,’ follows the thread from a magazine article about a centenarian head eunuch (d. 1968) to his adopted daughter Miss Phượng. From her wavering memory, steadied by places and objects they visit, Minh elicits opening stories the old man told about his life that also evoke his perspective on the colorful ceremonies of a royal dynasty as it dissolved and his asexual love for an eventually high-ranking concubine Ân-Phi.
These lead into Miss Phượng’s stories of her own life: her upbringing by her loving adoptive father as a Vietnamese-French orphan, not knowing her origins; the arrival of another young American in the late 1960s when she is a young woman, in search of the origins of his deceased lover, also Vietnamese-French; and his and Phượng’s discovery of the girls’ shared parenthood, as they fall into a love that’s also for the dead twin.
The fairy-tale-like separation in infancy of twin girls and their reunification at least in story by a ruby phoenix pendant is grounded by this family of lives painfully conditioned before birth by the gender customs of a culture and the decades of colonial and post-colonial war around them. These also belong to the long-suppressed stories Minh presents so they might not be lost.”
—Elizabeth Harris, judge & author of Mayhem: Three Lives of a Woman
About the Author
Khanh Ha is the author of Flesh, The Demon Who Peddled Longing, and Mrs. Rossi’s Dream. He is a seven-time Pushcart nominee, finalist for The Ohio State University Fiction Collection Prize, Mary McCarthy Prize, Many Voices Project, Prairie Schooner Book Prize, The University of New Orleans Press Lab Prize, and the Santa Fe Writers Project. He is the recipient of the Sand Hills Prize for Best Fiction, the Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction, The Orison Anthology Award for Fiction, The James Knudsen Prize for Fiction, The C&R Press Fiction Prize, The East Over Fiction Prize, and the Blackwater Press Fiction Prize. Mrs. Rossi’s Dream was named Best New Book by Booklist and a 2019 Foreword Reviews INDIES Silver Winner and Bronze Winner.
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