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The Forbidden Purple City

The Forbidden Purple City

A stunning story collection from a fierce new talent who writes with both assurance and vulnerability.

A man returns to Hoi An in his retirement to compose a poem honouring his parents. Two teenagers, ostracized in a private school, forge an unlikely bond. A son discovers the truth about his father's business ventures and his dreams of success. A young bride, isolated on a remote island with her new husband, finds community in a group of abalone divers.

Taking the title for his debut collection of short fiction from the walled palace of Vietnam's Nguyen dynasty, Philip Huynh dives headfirst into the Vietnamese diaspora. In these beautifully crafted stories, crystalline in their clarity and immersive in their intensity, he creates a universe inhabited by the deprivations of war, the reinvention of self in a new and unfamiliar settings, and the tensions between old-world parents and new-world children. Rooted in history and tradition yet startlingly contemporary in their approach, Huynh's stories are sensuously evocative, plunging us into worlds so all-encompassing that we can smell the scent of orange blossoms and hear the rumble of bass lines from suburban car stereos.


Philip Huynh was born in Vancouver to parents who had fled Vietnam during the civil war. His stories have been published in the Malahat Review, the New Quarterly, Event, and the Journey Prize Anthology and cited in The Best American Stories. He is the winner of the Open Season Award from the Malahat Review, a Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, and the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop Emerging Writers Award. A practicing lawyer, he lives in Richmond, BC.



"A stunning achievement — Huynh writes short stories with such intelligence and depth you'd guess he was an old master at the craft — on every page he cracks open the mind and makes the heart ache." — Lee Henderson

"Driven by Philip Huynh's clear affection for his singular and compelling characters, these stories take unexpected and glorious turns, delightfully bridge objective reality and the supernatural, and kaleidoscope us from the intimate to the global with an invisible mastery." — Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

"Patient and full of purpose, these stories press themselves into you like healing hands." — Zoey Leigh Peterson

"A moving and compelling debut. Characters are caught in the echoes of world history and personal secrets and struggle to find themselves in the unfamiliar. In new homes, new roles, or new relationships, Huynh narrates the essential stories of adaptation, loss, and unexpected joy." — Michael Kaan

"… subtle and captivating debut …" — The Vancouver Sun

"In The Forbidden Purple City, Huynh gives voice to Vietnamese-Canadian experiences, introduces many readers to a culturally diverse and intriguing history of Vietnam, and does so by crafting stories that are relatable, modern, quietly heartbreaking — and that keep us returning for a second, third and fourth read." — The Winnipeg Free Press

"Highly recommended reading for lovers of the short fiction genre." — The Miramichi Reader

264 pages
Pub date: March 12, 2019

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