"A ghost story may be any piece of fiction, or drama, that includes a ghost, or simply takes as a premise the possibility of ghosts or characters' belief in them."
Simple enough to understand, this is an appropriate description for the short stories in the book The Frangipani Hotel, which will be available to the public on April 1, 2014. The nine short stories in this collection take place in the United States as well as Vietnam, and deftly envelop subjects and themes which bring Vietnamese culture to life vividly, including family relationships, story-telling (within the stories), the post-Vietnam War experience, food, and also, as mentioned before, ghosts.
You may or may not believe in ghosts, but I imagine you do want to learn more about the ghosts in The Fragipani Hotel. Most notably, these are not your average, garden-variety ghosts, who make a career of haunting and scaring people. The ghosts in these stories are beguiling, and appear to be regular folks--at least initially. Somewhat unexpectedly, I loved to read about these ghosts. Slowly and skillfully, the author makes them appear more strange, until you realize you're dealing with supernatural beings. In the second story, Reception, which takes place in the Old Quarter of Hanoi at the dilapidated Frangipani Hotel ("the Frangi"), the main character, Phi, meets an attractive, extremely thirsty girl in room 205 with "dark, dark", "liquid eyes", who's been taking a very long bath. He senses that the girl and the situation are rather odd, although he does not understand what's going on. In the third story, Skin and Bones, Mrs. Tran sends her teenage daughters, Thuy and Kieu, from their home in Houston, TX, to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to visit Grandma Tran, because Mrs. Tran wants Thuy to lose some weight. Instead, Thuy meets a vendor there, who wears a straw hat and a kerchief that covers her face, who makes her delicious Vietnamese sandwiches, bánh mì, which cause Thuy's stomach to "gurgle in anticipation". (Usually I order my beloved phở at Vietnamese restaurants, but next time I may order bánh mì.) In the seventh story, Turning Back (which is probably my favorite story in this collection), the main character, Phuong Nguyen, meets a naked septuagenarian outside in the early morning while at her job at Kwon's World Grocery in Houston, Vo Van Hiep, who explains his nakedness with a very unusual secret.
Win a copy of this captivating book and be among the first to read it! The publisher, Spiegel & Grau, is generously offering a giveaway for a copy of The Frangipani Hotel (U.S. only).
- To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
- For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
- For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
- For one extra chance, mention ghost stories you've enjoyed reading.
Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, April 7. One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, April 8.
Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me an advance reader's edition of this book. For more reviews and features, please visit the other stops on TLC's book tour for The Frangipani Hotel.