Shade and Breeze is a coming-of-age story that really captures the reader with its magnetism, sensibility and sensitivity /… / Quynh Tran’s prose is vivid and cinematic, sensuous and full of images and descriptions that are both suggestive and alluring /… / An elegant and impressive debut.
... he is unarguably deft at building a mood, after a while the reader can navigate both the small apartment and the forest where the blueberry-picking begin to take a more alarming sensual shape. He is also excellent at implying that there really is a subtext, that the reader, just like the narrator, shall keep searching the unspoken for signs of hidden drama /… / It is clever, accomplished and suggestive.
The narrator’s gaze is intense and hungry and often lands on his mother and brother. He is immensely interested in other people’s inner lives and relationships, but these inner lives are unfortunately a place that is in a state of permanent shade and almost impossible to obtain. No matter how much one desires it, no matter how much one tries to diminish one’s presence /… / Quynh Tran was raised in Jakobstad and now lives in Malmö where he works as a psychologist. Shade and Breeze is his debut as a writer and a very evocative novel. It is full of familiar and ordinary details, astutely observed from a child’s perspective…
What exactly is a family? Finno-Vietnamese writer Quynh Tran introduces a Vietnamese immigrant family of three in the Finnish town of Jakobstad. There’s the mother, Má, the oldest son, Hieu, and the youngest son, the narrator, who is never named. They move in different directions and there are plenty of conflicts. They have very different attitudes to success: Má wants to earn lots of money and live the good life, young teenager Hieu dreams of Finnish girls – especially redhead Laura – and the narrator, the youngest son, has just realised that his scholastic efforts cause quite a stir. What is the glue that binds them together? The culture? The language? Their shared sense of alienation? They exist in some sort of a bubble within the Finnish society: they keep to themselves, and the Finns are equally standoffish towards them. With a great sensibility for details and a subdued, evocative prose, Quynh Tran portrays the family ties as both a strength and a shackle, and the immigrant’s eternal homelessness.