Saturday, November 01, 2014

Book Review: The Trader Of Saigon by Lucy Cruickshanks: Play Innocence To Pay Innocence

About the Book & Story:

The Trader Of Saigon by Lucy Cruickshanks is a marvelously crafted fiction story that is not far from the reality of the world. Alexander is a trader - flesh trader - human flesh trader - live human flesh. His trades women and girls, rather girls, amateur, teenagers, economically poor girls living in insecurity but starving for support, faith and trust as most of the time it is harassment that they have to face. Alexander used to ditch such kind of targets, softly starting by grabbing their attention, stealing their trust and then selling them off in the lucrative prices. 
The Trader Of Saigon by Lucy Cruickshanks is written in the background of Saigon town of Vietnam, the most happening place of the country. Alexander bunked from his army life and got hooked to young girls trafficking as a part of trading chain of Herder. Cheung Hu is the most powerful Chinese living in Saigon and running his own mafia in many of the illegal and illicit trades. He has many inside powerful political connections.

Hanh is an innocent girl living with her widowed severely ill mother. She is a small time worker to earn ration for the two. The story is about the journey of Hanh's getting targeted by Alexander for trafficking. 

Phuc is another time struck character who was a rich businessman but has been zeroed down to poverty due to all his money and property grabbed by the government.

You can find more about Lucy Cruickshanks in an interview on my blog here. 

My Views:

The Trader Of Saigon by Lucy Cruickshanks is a marvelously crafted fiction story that is not far from the reality of the world. Every country has a place Saigon in one form or the other, with illegal trading mafia that is mingled with dirty politics and helpless administration. Where there is no system in place. And even if there is a system in place, there is crime in much smarter manner to overshadow it. The level of smartness in crime Every country has Alexander, Hanh, Phuc, Herder and Cheung Hu - in multiples and in various religion, nationalities and gravity of crime or innocence in them. Where Hanh is young and innocent, living in poverty but much close to nature and life, there are criminals like Alexander, Phuc, Herder and Cheung Hu. Even if this trading does not happen in much advanced countries, there are buyers ready to pay big amount of money for Asian women. In a nutshell there are wolves in the cover of sheep in every place, becoming part of this trafficking ecosystem, whether in the form of a trader chain, buyer chain or the innocent victims.

As we move along the story of The Trader Of Saigon by Lucy Cruickshanks, there is an automatic emotional connect that gets established with the innocent girl Hanh, 15. The dirty terms used in these kind of trading are powerful enough to bring shame to any person living with dignity and respect. Lucy Cruickshanks has rightly dedicated this book to Scott with whom she met during a flight in a plane, in 2007, and got to know that the guy was a proud businessman engaged in women and girls trafficking in the name of matchmaking. So there is an America Soldier turned women trafficker - Alexander, a Chinese mafia king - Cheung Hu, a Russian pimp - Herder and locales - Phuc and Hanh - around whom the whole of the story revolves.

The fiction is not too far from the realities of the world elaborating its cruelties and tortures faced by innocent people like Phuc and Hanh. The Trader Of Saigon by Lucy Cruickshanks is her debut novel published in 2013. 

The cover of The Trader Of Saigon by Lucy Cruickshanks is fitting well with the theme of story.with a young girl (perhaps Hanh) in Vietnamese dress is sitting in the backdrop of Vietnam local environment. The time projected in the story is somewhere around 1980s.

This is a life turner story - for Phuc, for Hanh and for Alexander, so powerfully driven that binds you along for the whole journey. What in Hanh struck Alexander? Is there a development that is happening in his mind and heart in the shape of a transformation although he keeps sticking to his plans throughout, or is something struck at the final juncture...

The book was shortlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award and the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize, longlisted for the Waverton Goodread Award, and was a Top Ten Book of 2013 at The Bookbag. 

Thanks Lucy for sending signed copy of this fabulous book. Really enjoyed every word of it. Wish every Alexander becomes a savior from a predator, as in this book.

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