The Frangipani Hotel: Fiction

The Frangipani Hotel: Fiction

5.0 2
by Violet Kupersmith

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An extraordinarily compelling debut—ghost stories that grapple with the legacy of the Vietnam War
A beautiful young woman appears fully dressed in an overflowing bathtub at the Frangipani Hotel in Hanoi. A jaded teenage girl in Houston befriends an older Vietnamese gentleman she discovers naked behind a dumpster. A trucker in Saigon…  See more details below


An extraordinarily compelling debut—ghost stories that grapple with the legacy of the Vietnam War
A beautiful young woman appears fully dressed in an overflowing bathtub at the Frangipani Hotel in Hanoi. A jaded teenage girl in Houston befriends an older Vietnamese gentleman she discovers naked behind a dumpster. A trucker in Saigon is asked to drive a dying young man home to his village. A plump Vietnamese-American teenager is sent to her elderly grandmother in Ho Chi Minh City to lose weight, only to be lured out of the house by the wafting aroma of freshly baked bread. In these evocative and always surprising stories, the supernatural coexists with the mundane lives of characters who struggle against the burdens of the past.
Based on traditional Vietnamese folk tales told to Kupersmith by her grandmother, these fantastical, chilling, and thoroughly contemporary stories are a boldly original exploration of Vietnamese culture, addressing both the immigrant experience and the lives of those who remained behind. Lurking in the background of them all is a larger ghost—that of the Vietnam War, whose legacy continues to haunt us.
Violet Kupersmith’s voice is an exciting addition to the landscape of American fiction. With tremendous depth and range, her stories transcend their genre to make a wholly original statement about the postwar experience.
Praise for The Frangipani Hotel

“[A] subversively clever debut collection . . . These stories—playful, angry, at times legitimately scary—demonstrate a subtlety of purpose that belies [Kupersmith’s] youth.”The New York Times Book Review
“Magical, beautiful, modern stories, all based on traditional Vietnamese folktales, [The Frangipani Hotel] invokes the ghosts of the land that was left behind.”San Francisco Chronicle
“[A] sparkling debut . . . playful and wise, an astonishing feat for a young writer.”Chicago Tribune
“A series of short stories that are as fresh as they are mesmerizing, The Frangipani Hotel will haunt you long after the last words have drifted off the page.”—Lisa See
“Auspicious . . . wildly energetic.”Elle
“Enthralling stories . . . teeming with detail and personality.”—Asian Review of Books
“Chilling and lovely . . . Kupersmith has combined traditional storytelling with a post-modern sense of anxiety and darkness, and the result is captivating.”Bookreporter
“The stories shimmer with life. . . . Kupersmith [is] one to watch.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 01/01/2014
What is most haunting in Kupersmith's nine multilayered pieces are not the specters, whose tales are revealed as stories within stories, but the lingering loss and disconnect endured by the still living. With an American father and a Vietnamese "former boat refugee" mother, the author channels her bicultural history to create contemporary, post-Vietnam War glimpses of reclamation and reinvention on both sides of East and West. In "Skin and Bones," two Houston sisters visit their Ho Chi Minh City grandmother "to rediscover their roots" but more realistically because "Vietnam Was Fat Camp." In "Guests," a pair of American expat lovers have diverging expectations. A dying youth tries to steal another's body in "Little Brother," and an insistent knock at the door demands retribution 40 years after the war in "One-Finger." In "Reception," set in the titular Frangipani Hotel, the clerk's family's past overlaps with the coming new brand of the ugly American. VERDICT The wunderkind moniker will soon enough be attached to the 1989-born Kupersmith, who wrote most of these stories as a Mt. Holyoke undergraduate. Her mature-beyond-her-years debut deserves equal shelf space with other spare, provocative collections, such as Paul Yoon's Once the Shore, Lauren Groff's Delicate Edible Birds, and Yoko Ogawa's Revenge. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/13.]—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC
Publishers Weekly
★ 12/16/2013
In the stories in Kupersmith’s fiction debut, which are based on Vietnamese folktales, the modern and ancient collide, as do the real world and the spirit world. The stories are cast with a diverse assortment of characters, alive and dead. In “Reception,” set in the titular hotel in Hanoi, the front desk clerk, Phi, encounters an enigmatic woman whom he sets up on a fateful date with a visiting American businessman. In “Turning Back,” Phuong Nguyen, an aimless Vietnamese-American girl, finds a naked, elderly Vietnamese man behind the convenience store in Houston where she works as a clerk, and discovers to her horror that the man can (and does) take the form of a giant python. The collection’s least spirit-ridden story, “Guests,” features Mia, a young American woman who works at the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City; her job involves processing visa requests from people who claim to have been fathered by U.S. servicemen during the Vietnam War. The stories shimmer with life. The heat and tumult of Vietnam’s cities are palpable, and the awed wonderment of humans confronted with supernatural occurrences is artfully conveyed. These polished stories mark Kupersmith, who is in her early 20s, as one to watch. (Apr.)

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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Meet the Author

Violet Kupersmith graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2011 and then spent a year in Vietnam on a Fulbright teaching fellowship. She is currently at work on a novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

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The Frangipani Hotel: Stories 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just loved this book! I picked it up at the library but now I have to have a copy for myself to keep. I just fell into this book. I don't like to travel- I have been all over the place, but honestly, books like this are better than being a tourist. Even though the stories have an element of the supernatural, they places and characters are utterly believable. I could go on and on. Just read it if you like to read great writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written and does not read like a debut piece.