Anthropologist turned awardlisted novelist, Camilla Gibb has done it again with her new book Beauty of The Humanities Movement. This is a gorgeous meditation on the importance of artistic expression in our lives. A lively exploration of food and community. A mystery that allows for a discovery of the bridge between Contemporary Vietnam, and post-American war Vietnam's paranoid, cultural desertifcation.
Gibb uses the character of Old Man Hung a grandfatherly Pho master with no fixed location, to probe the grey and desperate times where non-comformist artists were painted out of the country. Maggie, an American-Vietnamese returns to Vietnam as an art dealer, but soon, with the help of Tu, gets caught up trying to piece together her father's experience as an artist, before the regime destroyed his hands, and his ability to produce art. Sumptuous passages about the making of Pho, hearttouching renderings of what consistutes family, of perseverance and foreberance. I read it under the moon in late august, and was sad that the pages went by so quickly.