Translated by Adriana Hunter and Ly Lan Dill
Publishing Date: Aug 2023
“A fable, a dream, a nightmare, Line Papin’s sharp little book fits like a wedge—Viet Thanh Nguyen
between the ribs. Her tale, remarkably wise from one her age, is a perfect
illustration of nostalgia as a homesickness so severe one can die of it, and Papin
nearly does, transplanted from the warmth of family intimacy in Việt Nam to the
bewildering grayness of France. In the end, her journey reveals itself to be a love
story: for the past, for childhood, and for Hà Nội, but also, hopefully, for
French Vietnamese writer Line Papin’s stunning English-language debut, The Girl Before Her, offers a window into the existential anguish of displacement as experienced by a child on the cusp of becoming a woman. Uprooted without explanation from the sunshine and chaos of Hà Nội at the age of ten, the narrator finds herself adrift in the unfamiliar, gray world of France and grappling with a deep sense of uncertainty about who she is and where she belongs. Lacking the words to express her growing sense of alienation, she stops talking, then eating. She’s hospitalized and almost dies from anorexia.
Part meditation, part family history, part message in a bottle to her younger selves, Papin’s lyrical work of autofiction explores what it takes to embrace one’s multiracial, transnational self by making peace with the generations of women who’ve come before. The Girl Before Her is the first book to be published by Ink & Blood, a new joint imprint from Kaya Press and the Diasporic Vietnamese Artist Network (DVAN), which aims to bring Vietnamese literary voices from across the globe to English readers.
“[Line Papin’s] pages on Hà Nội… where life and death cohabit as if in the same aquarium, are magnificent”-Nobel Prize Winner Annie Ernaux
About the Author
Born in Hà Nội, Line Papin moved to France at the age of ten. She is the author of five critically acclaimed novels: L’éveil (2016, Winner of the Vocation Prize), Toni (2018), Les os des filles (2019, Winner of the Readers’ Prize of Le Livre de Poche), Le coeur en laisse (2021), and Une vie possible (2022). She lives and writes in Paris.