About The Book
A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
2020 John Gardner Fiction Book Award Winner
A Mental Floss and PopMatters Best Books of 2019
A Publishers Weekly Best Fiction Books of 2019
With brilliant sensitivity, The SweetestFruits circumnavigates the globe, introducing three unforgettablewomen, separated by geography and culture but connected by their love for theglobetrotting Greek-Irish author Lafcadio Hearn, a.k.a. Koizumi Yakumo (1850–1904). An immigrant thrice over, now remembered as a keen cultural observer at best, and a purveyor of exotica at worst, Hearn was a remarkable but conflicted man who surrounded himself with women wanderers and storytellers. Excluded from history’s dominantpatriarchal narratives but with their own powerful stories to tell, the women sharetheir intrepid tales of crossing borders, languages, and social norms inpursuit of love, family, home, and belonging. This edition comes with a newafterword by the author.
Rosa Antonia Cassimati, a woman of the Ionian Islands, willsherself out of her father’s cloistered house, marries a British Army officer,and in 1852 comes to Ireland with her two-year-old son, Hearn. Alethea Foley,born into slavery on a Kentucky plantation, works as a boardinghouse cook inCincinnati, Ohio, after the Civil War, where in 1872 she meets and latermarries Hearn, a newspaper reporter. In Matsue, Japan, in 1891, Koizumi Setsu,a former samurai’s daughter, is introduced to the “New Foreign Teacher,” Hearn,and despite their lack of a common language, becomes the mother of his fourchildren and his unsung literary collaborator.
More than just mothers and wives, these trailblazingtraveler-explorers witness and offer a revealing, often contradictory pictureof Hearn’s remarkable life, while also giving testimony to their own displacedexistence and luminous will to live unbounded by gender, race, and the mores oftheir time. The Sweetest Fruits is a graceful excavation of their hiddennarratives, which tell infinitely more than their love for one man.
About The Author
Born in Saigon, South Vietnam (now Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam), in 1968, Monique Truong came to the US as a refugee in 1975. She isbased now in Brooklyn, New York. Her novels are the bestselling TheBook of Salt (2003) and the award-winning Bitter in the Mouth (2010). Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, U.S.-Japan Creative ArtistsFellowship, and Hodder Fellowship, she has taught fiction wring at ColumbiaSchool of the Arts, Princeton, and Baruch College as the Sidney Harmanwriter-in-residence. Monique is the winner of the 2021 John Dos Passos Prize for Literature.
“A marvelous mixture of fact and imagination . . . Truong’slush style is on gorgeous display in these pages, her imagery evoking hiddenemotional depths. . . . set off by a rich brocade ofsocial critiques—of slavery, colonization, and the repression of women. Withgreat generosity and compassion, Truong explores the difference between writingand telling stories, with the question of who gets to speak and who remains silent.”—DianaAbu-Jaber, The Washington Post
“A delicate, impressionistic tale . . . Truong is exploringpersonal memory in all its creative and contradictory subjectivity. . . .Spurred by nostalgia, regret, longing, and anger, each woman examines her memories.. . . As Setsu observes, ‘to tell another’s story is to bring him to life,’ buthere it’s the women who achieve that feat rather than the man who connectedthem.” —Priya Parmar, The New York Times Book Review
“[Mixing[ the extraordinary and the ordinary in anexhilarating new way. The Sweetest Fruits is brilliant andheartbreaking—I was transfixed.”—Gish Jen, author of Typical American
“Monique Truong has composed a sublime, many-voiced novel ofvoyage and reinvention. It will cross horizons, yet remain burrowed in yourheart.”—Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
“Truong’s innovative narration gives us the stories of threeincredible women right at the moments those stories are being repurposed orlost . . . In The Sweetest Fruits, even fragmented and forgotten storiesoffer sustenance. And in nourishing them it nourishes us.”—Leila Mansouri, TheBeliever
“Sweeping in scope and written in tight, precise language,it’s a read-into-the-night pick."—Marie Claire
“Intimate and sensuous yet majestic in scope, TheSweetest Fruits is a rapturous, glorious novel, extraordinarily alive tothe world.”—Idra Novey, author of Those Who Knew
“Mesmerizing . . . In going beyond the knowable and guidingus through the imaginable, Truong takes the measure of the man through hiswomen in coruscating prose.”—Jeff Kingston, Los Angeles Review of Books
“[A] sparkling, imaginative historical novel.”—The Philadelphia Enquirer (Fall 2019 Biggest Books)
“Monique Truong does what she does best, painting a vividportrait of privilege, restlessness, and tenacity through the conflictingexperiences of characters grappling with their senses of love, family, andhome.”—Literary Hub (Most Anticipated Books of 2019)
“This novel is not Lafcadio Hearn’s, but rather it belongsto the women of his life, who again are living and breathing . . . Thanks toTruong’s perfect rendering of their voices, justice has finally spoken andthose women’s voices find both life and peace.”—Publishers Weekly(Starred Review)
“TheSweetest Fruits leads readers [into] a sweeping narrative that posesquestions about belonging, existence, and storytelling.”—TheMillions (Most Anticipated: the Great Second-Half 2019 Book Preview)
“An absolutely brilliant intersection of fiction andhistory, politics and culture, love and loss.”—Hyphen Magazine
“[A] meditation on the vagaries of identity, themalleability of memory, and the question of whose stories are heard and whoseare silenced.”—The Arts Fuse
“For anyone whose life feels overshadowed by a more powerfulfigure, or even just not centered at any point in life for reasons beyond one’scontrol, reading [The Sweetest Fruits] can be a vindicatingexperience.”—Rei Magosaki, Los Angeles Review of Books
“By giving readers a concert of voices, at last singinglouder than Hearn’s biography and mythology, Truong asks us to ponder the waysthose who are often ignored and marginalized might have their own rich, epicstories worth telling. In that sense, The Sweetest Fruits is a type ofjustice.”—Eric Nguyen, diaCRITICS
“As a moving, poignant novel it is magnificent; as arecontextualization of malestream history, it is long overdue.”—PopMatters
Title: The Sweetest Fruits: A Novel
Author: Monique Truong
Publisher: Gaudy Boy
Book Size: 140.0 mm x 216.0 mm