Blood and Soap by Linh Dinh

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Blood and Soap is a breakthrough collection of modern-day fables from a wildly inventive American writer whose fiction has been called "terse and edgy" (Booklist) and "vividly imagined" (Kirkus Reviews). Dinh's gift is for constructing, in the manner of Italo Calvino, simple narratives that quickly frame larger questions; with a poet's timing, the author builds his stories to the one or few climactic sentences that brand them with unforgettable meaning. In one tale, a Vietnamese boy's self-guided, haphazard study of English gives way to a meditation on the universality of language: "Everything seems chaotic at first, but nothing is chaotic. One can read anything: ants crawling on the ground; pimples on a face; trees in a forest." In another story, a man opens a newspaper and sees the photograph of a man he may have murdered, which he impulsively clips, only to feel that in doing so he unwittingly has sealed his crime: "As soon as I finished, I realized what I had done: by cutting my father's likeness out of the newspaper, I had removed him from the world." The collection crescendoes in displays of raw creative power, as in "Eight Plots," a rapid-fire of three- and four-sentence summaries, and the brilliant, impressionistic "!"
Blood and Soap is an arresting collection from one of a small number of writers on the vanguard of American fiction.

About Linh Dinh

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A recipient of the Pew Foundation grant, the David T. Wong Fellowship, a Lannan Residency and the Asian American Literary Award, LINH DINH is the author of two collections of stories, Fake House (Seven Stories Press, 2000) and Blood and Soap (Seven Stories Press, 2004), five books of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and the novel Love Like Hate (Seven Stories Press 2010). His work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, and 2007, and in Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, among other places. Linh Dinh is also the editor of the anthologies Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and Three Vietnamese Poets (2001), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by the Village Voice as one of the Best Books of 2004. He has also published widely in Vietnamese.
Published January 4, 2011 by Seven Stories Press. 144 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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ForeWord Reviews

In “Prisoner with a Dictionary,” the author writes that his prisoner “was living inside this language all the time, like a fetus thriving inside a womb.” This prisoner memorizes a foreign language dictionary, forgetting his native tongue and remaking himself definition by definition.

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