27 January, 2015

The Frangipani Hotel: stories by Violet Kupersmith [Suneeta, Highland Park library]

I was in the mood for short stories when I chanced upon The Frangipani Hotel. Its title hinted of the exotic and tropical and the Asian-American background of the author attracted me, so I settled in for a relaxing read. But I was mistaken. Nothing about this book is relaxing. The nine pieces in the collection are filled with terror and wonder that entwine the spirit world with the material. In each story, supernatural occurrences based on traditional tales of Vietnam (told to the author by her grandmother), are juxtapositioned in a modern setting. The other haunting spectres are the ghosts of a long and bloody war and the memories of those of who lived through it. Set in Vietnam the ancestral home, and California, the place of dreams and opportunity for many displaced Vietnamese people, the stories transcend time and place, and are written with a chilling clarity and a vivid imagination.

For an experience that is both haunted and haunting, this first book by Violet Kupersmith is highly recommended.

Author: Violet Kupersmith
ISBN: 9780812993318
Published: 2014
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

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