Ghost hunters, a two headed snake, and a school for mixed-race children all play a part in this surprising novel, which begins with a missing woman and expands to encompass the history of Vietnam. Winnie is caught between worlds—too Vietnamese for her American friends and too American for her family in Vietnam. Adrift in her life at home in Maryland, Winnie seeks a fresh start in Saigon, but soon discovers she has no talent for teaching English. Her sudden disappearance begins a series of stories as the past unfolds, shining a light on a history not often told and the repercussions still felt today. Violet Kupersmith fills the pages with unforgettable characters and fascinating details, creating a dazzling trail connecting the past to the present, and mythology to daily life.— From Elaine & Luisa's Picks: Summer 2021
Part puzzle, part revenge tale, part ghost story, this kaleidoscopic novel spins half a century of Vietnamese history and folklore into a "brilliant, sweeping epic that swaps spirits and sheds time like snakeskin" (Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Survivor Song).
Two young women go missing decades apart. Both are fearless, both are lost. And both will have their revenge.
1986 The teenage daughter of a wealthy Vietnamese family loses her way in an abandoned rubber plantation while fleeing her angry father and is forever changed.
2011 A young, unhappy Vietnamese American woman disappears from her new home in Saigon without a trace. The fates of these two women are inescapably linked, bound together by past generations, by ghosts and ancestors, by the history of possessed bodies and possessed lands. Alongside them, we meet a young boy who is sent to a boarding school for the m tis children of French expatriates, just before Vietnam declares its independence from colonial rule; two Frenchmen who are trying to start a business with the Vietnam War on the horizon; and the employees of the Saigon Spirit Eradication Co., who find themselves investigating strange occurrences in a farmhouse on the edge of a forest. Each new character and timeline brings us one step closer to understanding what binds them all. Build Your House Around My Body takes us from colonial mansions to ramshackle zoos, from sweaty nightclubs to the jostling seats of motorbikes, from ex-pat flats to sizzling back-alley street carts. Spanning more than fifty years of Vietnamese history and barreling toward an unforgettable conclusion, this is a time-traveling, heart-pounding, border-crossing fever dream of a novel that will haunt you long after the last page.
About the Author
Violet Kupersmith is the author of the short story collection The Frangipani Hotel. She previously taught English with the Fulbright program in the Mekong Delta and was a creative writing fellow at the University of East Anglia. She has lived in Da Lat and Saigon in Vietnam, and currently resides in the United States.