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The Forbidden Purple City 101

Let’s talk about The Forbidden Purple City. Author Philip Huynh was the 2016 co-winner of the Emerging Writers Award and has been widely published in literary journals and the Journey Prize Anthology. This collection of stories took Huynh over 10 years to write.

“The stories are disparate in theme and voice, and I wanted an arrangement that would showcase their stylistic diversity to the greatest effect,” says Huynh, who launches The Forbidden Purple City tonight in Vancouver.

“So for the most part, I tried not to bunch up stories that were too similar in style or tone (for example, not putting two stories told in the first person side-by-side). I wanted to keep the reader interested by providing variety on a tonal level.”

Huynh says that, in a way, the stories are connected through their arrangement, so that each story picks up on some theme the previous story left behind.

For example, “Gulliver’s Wife” picks up on the question that “The Investment on Dumfries” poses about how the people with whom you share the closest quarters can be a complete mystery. “Turkey Day” ends with a couple at a crossroads regarding their tenuous connections (both are Asian Canadians in New York) and is followed by “Toad Poem”, which is about a man seeking a woman with tenuous connections to his past.

“I’d like to think that the collection comes back full circle and that all the stories resonate with each other.”

We’ve collected some tidbits of interviews and reviews across the web for your reading pleasure below!


“I do hope to touch upon matters of more universal interest — such as love, jealousy, and the ambition to make one’s way through often difficult and unfamiliar terrain.”

- Huynh shares in Ricepaper Magazine


“Aside from the overall thoughtfulness of the collection, what impresses is the range.”

- Writes Brett Josef Grubisic in the Vancouver Sun


 Huynh said that while some of the stories in his collection might hint at parts of his real life, they aren’t autobiographical. For example, many of the stories take place in cities he’s lived in.

- From an interview in Richmond News


“Wherever these stories are set, all of them required quite a bit of research, not only to capture the geographic setting but, in a broader sense, to capture worlds that I was not otherwise familiar with, such as the destruction of the Hue palaces during the wars, the various approaches to historical restoration, Vietnamese traditional music, etc.”

- Huynh shares in Event Magazine


The launch tonight in Vancouver is at Massy Books at 7 PM. Huynh will be joined by special guest Andrew Battershill, author of MARRY, BANG, KILL.

101 series Interview Literary News philip huynh

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