We Need Diverse Ya Sale

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    The Powell's Playlist | June 15, 2015

    Matthew Quick: IMG Portia Kane's '80s Metal Mix

    Two of Love May Fail's main characters, Portia Kane and Chuck Bass — now in their early 40s — still love the metal music that was... Continue »
    1. $18.19 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

      Love May Fail

      Matthew Quick 9780062285560

Qualifying orders ship free.
List price: $14.95
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
2 Beaverton Literature- A to Z
2 Burnside Literature- A to Z

The Book of Salt


The Book of Salt Cover


What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Shoshana, May 24, 2008 (view all comments by Shoshana)
A lyrical and evocative reflection on colonialism, but reported as a story about desire and wholeness. The narrator, Binh, is Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas's Vietnamese cook at 27 rue des Fleurus in Paris. Some reviewers have critiqued it for not being enough about Stein and Toklas; this is like criticizing A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court for not focusing on King Arthur. While Stein and Toklas provide a foil and a context, this is Binh's narrative. While Vietnam and France are the backdrop, he is a young man both literally and figuratively at sea.

Though I occasionally tripped over a bit of Truong's prose, overall the novel flows well, is a joy to read, and mixes sweet, sour, bitter, and salt as exactingly as any cook could wish.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(9 of 15 readers found this comment helpful)
Karin, April 21, 2007 (view all comments by Karin)
The Book of Salt has the most beautiful prose you will ever read. Read it for the story, but savor the language along the way.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(8 of 14 readers found this comment helpful)
salliforth1, March 29, 2006 (view all comments by salliforth1)
This was favorite read of 2005. Beautiful language, inexorable sadness -- a compelling story of Gertrude Stein's and Alice B. Toklas' Vietnamese cook. Binh doesn't fit anywhere; not in Vietnam, not in Paris, not in the countryside. He is invisible. He cooks. He loves and is loved (as much as an invisible person can). He searches for a life that is always out of reach. And his story is told in salt: Salt in tears, salt in food, salt in sweat, salt in the sea. Lovely and haunting.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(29 of 48 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

Truong, Monique
Mariner Books
Gay men
Historical fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
June 2004
Grade Level:
8.26x5.58x.68 in. .63 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. Crescent Used Hardcover $5.50
  2. Arabian Jazz Used Trade Paper $5.50
  3. Caramelo
    Used Trade Paper $4.50
  4. Child of My Heart
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  5. Wonder When You'll Miss Me
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  6. Grass Roof, Tin Roof Used Trade Paper $8.00

Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Sale Books

The Book of Salt Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Mariner Books - English 9780618446889 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I enjoyed this book for its quirky story line — a young Vietnamese cook, who is also gay, comes to live in Paris with his brother who is an aspiring chef. After a brief stint working alongside his sibling he loses the job and comes to inquire for a position as a live-in cook for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. What ensues is the combination of pressures he must balance in order to explore his individuality and to come to terms with the very exacting demands of the famous couple he now works for.

"Review" by , "Truong weaves a sumptuous tale of gastronomy, language, cravings, and cruelty....The Book of Salt doesn't lay its secrets bare but coils itself around them."
"Review" by , "A debut novel of pungent sensousness and intricate, inspired imagination."
"Review" by , "A mesmerizing narrative voice, an insider's view of a fabled literary household and the slow revelation of heartbreaking secrets contribute to the visceral impact of this first novel....If Truong sometimes stretches the range of Bonh's understanding and powers of observation...the narrative rings with emotional authenticity."
"Review" by , "[A] dazzling if sometimes daunting debut....Truong caresses each image and each shifting sensation, forming whole scenes around a taste, color, or touch, language being her other second theme....A tour de force. Truong should take literate America by storm."
"Review" by , "A fascinating, original, and sharply written story with vivid insight into the world of cooking."
"Review" by , "Elegant, witty, intricate, and richly imagined, Monique Truong's Book of Salt is — dare I say it? — a delicious and deeply satisfying novel."
"Synopsis" by , The Book of Salt serves up a wholly original take on Paris in the 1930s through the eyes of Binh, the Vietnamese cook employed by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Viewing his famous mesdames and their entourage from the kitchen of their rue de Fleurus home, Binh observes their domestic entanglements while seeking his own place in the world. In a mesmerizing tale of yearning and betrayal, Monique Truong explores Paris from the salons of its artists to the dark nightlife of its outsiders and exiles. She takes us back to Binh's youthful servitude in Saigon under colonial rule, to his life as a galley hand at sea, to his brief, fateful encounters in Paris with Paul Robeson and the young Ho Chi Minh.
"Synopsis" by , "[He] came to us through an advertisement that I had in desperation put in the newspaper. It began captivatingly for those days: 'Two American ladies wish to hire . . .' " It was these lines in The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book that inspired The Book of Salt, a brilliant first novel by an acclaimed Vietnamese American writer.

In Paris, 1934, Binh has accompanied his employers, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, to the train station for their departure to America. His own destination is unclear: will he go with "the Steins," stay in France, or return to his native Vietnam? Binh has fled his homeland in disgrace, leaving behind his malevolent charlatan of a father and his self-sacrificing mother. For five years, he has been the live-in cook at the famous apartment at 27 rue de Fleurus.

Before Binh's decision is revealed, his mesmerizing narrative catapults us back to his youth in French-colonized Vietnam, his years as a galley hand at sea, and his days turning out fragrant repasts for the doyennes of the Lost Generation. Binh knows far more than the contents of the Steins' pantry: he knows their routines and intimacies, their manipulations and follies. With wry insight, he views Stein and Toklas ensconced in rueful domesticity.

But is Binh's account reliable? A lost soul, he is a late-night habitue of the Paris demimonde, an exile and an alien, a man of musings and memories, and, possibly, lies. Love is the prize that has eluded him, from his family to the men he has sought out in his far-flung journeys, often at his peril.

Intricate, compelling, and witty, the novel weaves in historical characters, from Stein and Toklas to Paul Robeson and Ho Chi Minh, with remarkable originality. Flavors, seas, sweat, tears — The Book of Salt is an inspired feast of storytelling riches.

  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.