Line Papin NEWS
The Girl Before Her
French Vietnamese writer Line Papin’s stunning English-language debut, The Girl Before Her (Ink & Blood / Kaya Press, May 2023), offers a window onto 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.
“A fable, a dream, a nightmare, Line Papin’s sharp little book fits like a wedge 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 herself.”
— Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer
More Praise for Line Papin:
“[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
“After a remarkable debut, Line Papin chooses the intimate as raw material and delivers…. Her account is inhabited by the voice of her elders, but also by a visceral need to narrate herself in order to reconcile with herself. Her writing… remains bewitching and singular.”
— Elle France