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How to Pronounce Knife
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
31 posts | 29 read | 28 to read
Featuring stories that have appeared in Harper's, Granta, and The Paris Review, this revelatory debut collection from O. Henry Award winner Souvankham Thammavongsa establishes her as an essential new voice in Canadian and world literature. With these startling stories, Souvankham Thammavongsa paints an indelible portrait of immigrants and refugees caught between cultures, languages, and values, and struggling to find their bearings far from home, even as they do the necessary "grunt work of the world." In spare, intimate prose charged with emotional power and a sly wit, she immerses us in the lives of watchful children, lovelorn men, and restless women, illuminating their hopes, heartbreaks, acts of defiance, willingness to laugh at themselves, and, above all, their pursuit of a place to make their own. After a boxer loses his dream of becoming a championship fighter, he finds an unexpected chance at redemption while working at his sister's nail salon. A daughter becomes an unwilling accomplice in her mother's growing infatuation with country singer Randy Travis. When a seventy-year-old woman begins a relationship with her much younger neighbour, her assumptions about the limits of love unravel. As he watches his wife gradually drift into an affair with her boss, a school bus driver must grapple with what he's willing to give up in order to belong. And in the Commonwealth Short Story Prize-shortlisted title story, a young girl's unconditional love for her father transcends the fickleness of language. Told with tenderness, wry humour, and an unflinching eye for the sometimes absurd realities of having to start your life over again, How to Pronounce Knife announces Thammavongsa as one of the most striking voices of her generation.
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LibraryCin
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Mehso-so

I enjoyed the stories as I read them, so I‘m giving this a “good” rating, but like with the majority of short stories I read, I forget them. Even by the end of the (short) book, I have forgotten most of the stories. I give plenty of short story collections an “ok” rating, since I usually find they vary – I like some, but not others – but these (even listening on audio) were almost all ones I liked.

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Megabooks
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Pickpick

Due to space constraints, I‘m trying to get used to reading everything as #audiobooks, even short stories. Though I would‘ve enjoyed this collection about the Laotian immigrant community more in print, it still packed a strong punch. In particular I‘ve been thinking about a story where a volunteer white teen was promoted over a very skilled Lao woman. I love books that give me a window into a new world. Enthusiastic pick!

rachelsbrittain Stacked! Great review. 2y
Megabooks @rachelsbrittain fantastic! Enjoy 👍🏻 2y
Cinfhen I think I might like this collection - #Stacked 2y
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BarbaraBB Laos. That‘s cool. A country I know little about. 2y
Megabooks @Cinfhen I think you‘d like it too. The stories are short and straightforward, yet powerful. 2y
Megabooks @BarbaraBB wow! There was a really interesting one about Laotian wedding customs. I learned so much! 2y
77 likes3 stack adds6 comments
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Shievad
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
Pickpick

A collection of short stories focusing on Laotian immigrants and their children living in Canada.

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Kris10H
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Mehso-so

⭐⭐⭐
This collection of short stories was alright. I do enjoy hearing from the POV of a minority culture I have no experience with, but the stories really lacked a quality of universal humanity that I could make personal connections to.

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mhillis
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Pickpick

I‘ve finished my week two book for #14books14weeks2021 How to Pronounce Knife is a short story collection and the stories revolve around the lives of people from Laos in Canada. My favorites were How to pronounce knife and Chick-a-Chee! because both of them are about language, and how challenging it can be to use a new one at school or in the community. But this book is about much more than that! The characters and emotions really come through 🧡

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elizabethlk
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Pickpick

We've wrapped up our #LiteReads selection, Mani Pedi by Souvankham Thammavongsa. I personally enjoyed the story and I'm eager to read more from the author. The full review is available now (link below). Be sure to let me know I the comments what you thought of this one.

Our new selection will be available tomorrow, chosen with the end of AHM/AAPIHM in mind, as well as with the beginning of Pride Month in mind.

https://wp.me/p9KSXu-Qh

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elizabethlk
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Our new #LiteReads selection is Mani Pedi by Souvankham Thammavongsa! This 2015 short story was featured as part of Thammavongsa's award winning 2020 collection How to Pronounce Knife. Mani Pedi is about a former boxer who takes up work at his sister's nail salon. You can find the link to read the story in the full blog post (link below). Be sure to let me know what you think of this new AHM Lite Reads pick!

https://wp.me/p9KSXu-Qf

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Theexplorer
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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I first read this anthology in the fall of 2020. I fell so much in love with it. Then later it won the Giller Prize which validated my love for it. I‘d been talking about it nonstop by then 😂. When my bookstore was lining up books for a 6 Month Read Along of course I had this one included. We‘re reading it now. I still can‘t get over it! The prose! You just get lost in it and the characters 🧡. Now I also want to try Laotian cuisine.

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amyf0x
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Pickpick

Thammavongsa‘s thoughtful stories hone in on the varied experiences of Lao immigrants in North America.

Read March 21-23
Rated 4/5 ⭐️
Book 18/60

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Pinta
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Mehso-so

Short stories from Lao immigrant life, families break as children of refugees observe their parents in new surroundings. Good observations in direct & even tone, but stories largely feel too safe & underdeveloped. Edge of the World: “My father did not grieve. He has done all of this life‘s grieving when he became a refugee. To lose your love, to be abandoned by your wife was a thing of luxury even—it meant you were alive.” 2020

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Hooked_on_books
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Pickpick

These stories truly are short, but they really get the job done, expressing in brief the realities of life for Lao immigrants in Canada. I‘m hit or miss with stories, but this collection worked for me.

#ReadingAsia2021 #Laos

Librarybelle This one is on my to read list! 3y
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Bibliogeekery
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Pickpick

This was such a delightful collection of short stories. I feel like poets often have such rich, tight purpose and this book certainly supports that theory. Centering the experiences of Laotian people in Canada, Thammavongsa writes a series of complex and endearing characters. Very enjoyable.

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Bibliogeekery
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Next up!

Penny_LiteraryHoarders The stories are all so wonderful inside! 3y
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mcctrish
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Pickpick

This was an early Christmas present and a perfect read during the crazy lead up to Christmas. A short story collection that packs a powerful punch ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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mcctrish
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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My bedtime reading

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Coueriamb
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Pickpick

I am a sucker for short stories and fables so this collection of quick somewhat surreal somewhat grounded slice of life stories hit a good spot in me. It was a super quick read too!

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Lindy
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Thammavongsa wins the Giller! #gillerprize

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Lindy
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Toronto festival event on now with Souvankham Thammavongsa and Kaie Kellough. Host is Fiona Raye Clarke. I‘m comfy on my couch

DrexEdit While I hate this crazy year and being ruled by a tiny virus, I'm nonetheless digging all the virtual book events I've been able to attend! 😄 💜 3y
Lindy @DrexEdit Indeed! I think I‘ve attended about 20 so far. 3y
31 likes2 comments
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Lindy
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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If you‘re wondering how I did in predicting the Giller longlist, have a look at my reaction post: https://lindypratch.blogspot.com/2020/09/giller-2020-longlist-reaction.html?m=1
#shadowgiller #canlit #gillerprize

rabbitprincess Great job with the predictions! A lot of good books on the list. 3y
Lindy @rabbitprincess Thanks! And yes, I agree about great books on the list. 🤓 3y
33 likes2 comments
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Penny_LiteraryHoarders
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Pickpick

What an excellent collection of short stories!! So many fantastic ones inside.

#CanLit #ShadowGiller

@Lindy

Lindy I have confidence that this will make the Giller longlist, and perhaps the shortlist. 4y
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keepingupwiththepenguins
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Pickpick

Every story in this collection is deeply affecting; one in particular, The Universe Would Be So Cruel, moved me to tears. The fear and sadness is offset by moments of absurdity and insight. I gobbled these stories down, but in retrospect I wish I hadn‘t: How To Pronounce Knife would benefit from slow and careful consideration (so I‘ll definitely read it again, and soon). Extended review: https://keepingupwiththepenguins.com/new-releases/

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Penny_LiteraryHoarders
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Next up on my #CanLit #ShadowGiller journey.

I may need a day to recover from Five Little Indians though.

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eraderneely
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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I don‘t like short stories. But I keep getting suckered in by a really good review by someone who loved them. Here I am again, reading some short stories that are *fine* but I would rather be reading something else. Help me!

TrishB I do that too! Not my thing at all. 4y
eraderneely @TrishB but it sounded SO GOOD 4y
Oryx Same! I think the only short stories I've ever actually enjoyed are Stephen king's and roald Dahl's. 4y
eraderneely @Oryx glad it‘s not just me! 4y
19 likes4 comments
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Lindy
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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I didn‘t like how the worms felt in my hands, so cold and slimy and raw. There was no mistaking they were alive. … I wanted to scream, to yell out about how gross it all was, and to throw them back to the ground, but I didn‘t want to shame my mother in front of everyone. So I held on. This was a job wanted by many and I was lucky my mom got me in.
-Picking Worms

Sleepswithbooks Horrible flashback to walking to school and the road being full of these guys! Elementary school me was sure one was going to wiggle inside my shoe and get between my toes 🤢 4y
Lindy @Stacypatrice Do you feel the same way about the earthworm folk now as you did as a child? They are just going about their skinny lives, paying no attention to the giants above them. 4y
LeahBergen I love seeing worms after it rains. 4y
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Sleepswithbooks @Lindy - My toes still involuntarily curl in sweaty fear when I see them 😮 4y
Lindy @Stacypatrice Sounds like you have vermiphobia. I hope you don‘t encounter worms often. 😐 4y
31 likes6 comments
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Lindy
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Pickpick

I highly recommend this collection of quiet stories, told with compassion and humour, about Laotian refugees. They are bus drivers, beauticians, farm labourers & factory workers—people with self confidence & integrity. People who carry a sense of home within themselves. People who know the power of laughter. There‘s a porous quality to the writing: the sense of possibility that lies in all that is unsaid & unnamed. #CanadianAuthor #ownvoices

Suet624 Sounds lovely. 4y
Lindy @Suet624 😊It is. 4y
madams421 This one‘s on my list! 4y
Lindy @madams421 😊👍 4y
49 likes5 stack adds4 comments
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Lindy
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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At the farm, where processing took place, carrots arrived from warmer climates and sometimes came in unusual shapes. She had to discard those. No grocery store was going to buy something that looked like a balled up fist and call it a carrot.

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Lindy
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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“What, you think you got a chance with that Miss Emily there? She‘s rich and educated. None of the things we are or are ever gonna be. Don‘t you be dreaming big now, little brother. Keep your dreams small. The size of a grain of rice. And cook that shit up and swallow it every night, then shit that fucking thing out in the morning. It ain‘t never gonna happen. That woman ain‘t for you.”

LeahBergen I buy this brand of rice, too. 😆 4y
Lindy @LeahBergen 🍚👍 4y
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Lindy
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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The note had been typed out, folded over two times, and pinned to the child‘s chest. It could not be missed. And as she did with all the other notes that went home with the child, her mother removed the pin and threw it away. If the contents were important, a phone call would be made to the house.

Penny_LiteraryHoarders I thought this story was incredible. So much emotion packed into a mere 7 pages. My #1 story in the collection, but there were so many other ones I loved too. 4y
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Lindy
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Raymond didn‘t know what happened out there in the ring—a flurry of jabs and punches, and then he was out. At the time, none of that hurt. The pain came afterwards, and matched the sadness he felt in his body like an extra set of bones.

(Internet photo)

Centique That‘s a wonderful image of sadness. 4y
Lindy @Centique Yes. I love how this woman uses words. 😊 4y
30 likes2 comments
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Lindy
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Sunshine, tea, bread, butter, dandelion jelly and a book. Perfect.

KarenUK That does sound perfect 👌💕 4y
Centique Dandelion jelly! That sounds marvellous and also like fairyland 💕🧚 4y
Lindy @Centique The French name for dandelion jelly is cramaillotte. It‘s also called poor man‘s honey. You just use the yellow part of the flowers, so the taste is of nectar. 4y
Centique @Lindy it sounds delicious. You should have a tv show I think with all these wonderful crafts, gardening and cooking (not that you would enjoy the intrusion I expect 😉) 4y
Lindy @Centique 🥰 That‘s so sweet of you! ❤️ 4y
42 likes1 stack add5 comments
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candority
How to Pronounce Knife: Stories | Souvankham Thammavongsa
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Pickpick

How to Pronounce Knife is a collection of 14 short stories featuring Laos immigrants. The stories are sparse, but well-written and impactful. I enjoyed each of them, with my favourites being “How to Pronounce Knife,” “Chick-A-Chee,” “A Far Distant Thing” and “Picking Worms.” The audio narration was also very well done. #NetGalley

Lindy Glad to hear you enjoyed this. I‘ve got it in my stack of recent purchases and plan to get to it very soon. 👍 4y
candority @Lindy I hope you like it! 😊 4y
77 likes3 stack adds2 comments