The Book of Salt

Recommended by Wai Chee Dimock, and 1 others. See all reviews

Ranked #68 in Vietnamese

Binh, a Vietnamese cook, flees Saigon in 1929, disgracing his family to serve as a galley hand at sea. The taunts of his now-deceased father ringing in his ears, Binh answers an ad for a live-in cook at a Parisian household, and soon finds himself employed by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.

Toklas and Stein hold court in their literary salon, for which the devoted yet acerbic Binh serves as chef, and as a keen observer of his "Mesdames" and their distinguished guests. But when the enigmatic literary ladies decide to journey back to America, Binh is faced with a monumental...

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Wai Chee Dimock The Book of Salt is a wonderful book, one of my favourites. It’s by a Vietnamese-American author, Monique Truong, who was born in Saigon but now lives in the US. She has a degree from Yale and a law degree from Columbia. She said that she was inspired to write this novel because of Alice B Toklas’s cookbook, which was Alice’s claim to fame. Truong loves food, so she chooses to write about 1920s Paris through the eyes of Binh, the Vietnamese cook employed by Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas. (Source)

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