The Frangipani Hotel: Fiction
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
An extraordinarily compelling debut—ghost stories that grapple with the legacy of the Vietnam War
A beautiful young woman appears fully dressed in an overflowing bathtub at the Frangipani Hotel in Hanoi. A jaded teenage girl in Houston befriends an older Vietnamese gentleman she discovers naked behind a dumpster. A trucker in Saigon is asked to drive a dying young man home to his village. A plump Vietnamese-American teenager is sent to her elderly grandmother in Ho Chi Minh City to lose weight, only to be lured out of the house by the wafting aroma of freshly baked bread. In these evocative and always surprising stories, the supernatural coexists with the mundane lives of characters who struggle against the burdens of the past.
Based on traditional Vietnamese folk tales told to Kupersmith by her grandmother, these fantastical, chilling, and thoroughly contemporary stories are a boldly original exploration of Vietnamese culture, addressing both the immigrant experience and the lives of those who remained behind. Lurking in the background of them all is a larger ghost—that of the Vietnam War, whose legacy continues to haunt us.
Violet Kupersmith’s voice is an exciting addition to the landscape of American fiction. With tremendous depth and range, her stories transcend their genre to make a wholly original statement about the postwar experience.
Praise for The Frangipani Hotel
“[A] subversively clever debut collection . . . These stories—playful, angry, at times legitimately scary—demonstrate a subtlety of purpose that belies [Kupersmith’s] youth.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Magical, beautiful, modern stories, all based on traditional Vietnamese folktales, [The Frangipani Hotel] invokes the ghosts of the land that was left behind.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“[A] sparkling debut . . . playful and wise, an astonishing feat for a young writer.”—Chicago Tribune
“A series of short stories that are as fresh as they are mesmerizing, The Frangipani Hotel will haunt you long after the last words have drifted off the page.”—Lisa See
“Auspicious . . . wildly energetic.”—Elle
“Enthralling stories . . . teeming with detail and personality.”—Asian Review of Books
“Chilling and lovely . . . Kupersmith has combined traditional storytelling with a post-modern sense of anxiety and darkness, and the result is captivating.”—Bookreporter
“The stories shimmer with life. . . . Kupersmith [is] one to watch.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
From the Hardcover edition.
asleep. But by the time she woke up the smell had always abated, and she and Kieu, rubbing the sleep from their eyes, would go downstairs to the kitchen, where Grandma Tran was waiting with slices of tasteless, pulpy fruit for their afternoon snack. Thuy was almost happy here; she liked spending time with Grandma Tran, she liked being away from her mother, she liked that she felt vaguely Vietnamese for the first time in her life. She was even starting to like the weird smell of the house. What
of baguette resting in its palm. Thuy stepped forward and took the offering, her chubby fingers trembling slightly. She suppressed the urge to hold the bread close to her nose and breathe in its warm aroma as she took the first bite but couldn’t help closing her eyes as she chewed with pleasure. After two weeks of flavorless, texture-less, rice-based meals, it was the most exquisite thing Thuy had ever tasted. The vendor let out a rippling laugh, which bounced lightly off the concrete walls
never returned to my village. I spent the next years wandering, begging, stealing. Trying and failing to take my own life. But I couldn’t go on despising myself forever. Eventually I stopped asking God for forgiveness. “Do you know that the first people of Vietnam worshipped the snake? You see, we aren’t so dissimilar, God and I—both feared and revered. But what I came to realize—what He never knew—is that freedom is this slippery form he gave me. His punishment was really His greatest gift. The
showing no sign either of the alarm that had possessed him a moment ago or embarrassment because of it. His fingers drummed against his thigh as he walked down the hallway to the kitchen. Through the keyhole, Dien saw him coming and began rocking on his heels again. He bit his tongue. The Calligrapher paused before the door and said, keeping his voice even, “Con, your father is coming in to get the broom now.” After waiting a few moments more, he selected one of the keys on the chain around his
long, too intently, too expectantly. What came out was something that I summoned myself. In the early hours of the morning, when my fear had still not abated but my eyes were beginning to droop, something in the jungle made a noise. A clicking. Soft, but distinctly non-animal in origin. A monkey, I told myself anyway. It must be a monkey. It grew louder, and it was coming from somewhere to my left. A cricket then; a very large cricket, I thought, but my trigger finger was twitching despite