Wandering Souls by Cecile Pin (HC)
LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION
There are the goodbyes and then the fishing out of the bodies – everything in between is speculation.
One night, not long after the last American troops leave Vietnam, siblings Anh, Thanh and Minh flee their village and embark on a perilous boat journey to Hong Kong. Their parents and four younger siblings make the crossing in another vessel but as weeks go by it becomes clear that only one party has survived the voyage.
Anh, Thanh and Minh suddenly find themselves alone in the world, without family or home. They travel on, navigating refugee camps and resettlement centres until, by a twist of fate, they arrive in Thatcher’s Britain. Here they must somehow build new lives with only each other to turn to, but will that be enough in a place that doesn’t seem to want them?
In this piercing debut, the siblings’ faltering journey is deftly interwoven with the voice of their lost younger brother, Dao, following them from a place between the living and the dead, and the records of an unknown researcher intent on gathering the strands of their story. Wandering Souls paints a heart-wrenching portrait of a family in unimaginable adversity while exploring the healing power of stories.
"Powerful … a bold debut that breaks new ground." - Sunday Times
"An astute and sure-footed excavation of family, selfhood, and loss in the shadow of colonial violence. It is also a deeply humane and genre-defying work of love and uncompromising hope through a long-overdue portrayal of Vietnamese life in the UK. A mighty achievement." - Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth, We're Briefly Gorgeous
"A heartbreaking novel … a deeply affecting reckoning with history." - i-D Magazine
Publisher: Fourth Estate