Why did I love this book?
The Tale of Kieu is an early 19th Century epic poem and the cornerstone of Vietnamese literature. Adapted from a 17th Century Chinese novel, it is the story of a beautiful, well-to-do young woman forced into prostitution to save her family from destitution in a time of great government corruption and civil unrest. The poem is so revered in Vietnam that there is a popular branch of fortune-telling that uses it for predictions, and Kieu’s sacrifice is seen as mirroring the sacrifices Vietnamese have made in times of war and hardship, even across the centuries before the poem was written. The poem is bejewelled with beautiful lines, and presents a unique depiction of a woman who retains her dignity despite the many who try to rob her of it.