Finalist, City of Vancouver Book Award 2019
A man returns to Hoi An in his retirement to compose a poem honouring his parents. Two teenagers, ostracized in a private school, forge an unlikely bond. A son discovers the truth about his father's business ventures and his dreams of success. A young bride, isolated on a remote island with her new husband, finds community in a group of abalone divers.
Taking the title for his debut collection of short fiction from the walled palace of Vietnam's Nguyen dynasty, Philip Huynh dives headfirst into the Vietnamese diaspora. In these beautifully crafted stories, crystalline in their clarity and immersive in their intensity, he creates a universe inhabited by the deprivations of war, the reinvention of self in a new and unfamiliar settings, and the tensions between old-world parents and new-world children. Rooted in history and tradition yet startlingly contemporary in their approach, Huynh's stories are sensuously evocative, plunging us into worlds so all-encompassing that we can smell the scent of orange blossoms and hear the rumble of bass lines from suburban car stereos.
"A moving and compelling debut. Characters are caught in the echoes of world history and personal secrets and struggle to find themselves in the unfamiliar. In new homes, new roles, or new relationships, Huynh narrates the essential stories of adaptation, loss, and unexpected joy."
"Huynh’s style is understated, measured, and steadfast, making the stories a pleasure to read."
"Highly recommended reading for lovers of the short fiction genre."
"A stunning achievement — Huynh writes short stories with such intelligence and depth you'd guess he was an old master at the craft — on every page he cracks open the mind and makes the heart ache."
"Driven by Philip Huynh's clear affection for his singular and compelling characters, these stories take unexpected and glorious turns, delightfully bridge objective reality and the supernatural, and kaleidoscope us from the intimate to the global with an invisible mastery."
"Patient and full of purpose, these stories press themselves into you like healing hands."
"In The Forbidden Purple City, Huynh gives voice to Vietnamese-Canadian experiences, introduces many readers to a culturally diverse and intriguing history of Vietnam, and does so by crafting stories that are relatable, modern, quietly heartbreaking — and that keep us returning for a second, third and fourth read."
"… subtle and captivating debut …"