I recently received an email from writer S R Wilsher, who is a debut author. His book, titled The Collection of Heng Souk, is an interesting read, that has the feel of a journal, but goes way in depth.
Here is a summary of the plot:
The story has as it catalyst the Vietnam War, but it is much more about the connection of the people, and the terrible effects wrought by war, rather than it is about the conflict.
At the heart of the story is a journal kept by a young US prisoner-of-war, Ephraim Luther and his torturous relationship with his captor, Heng Souk, who makes him dig the graves of the other prisoners.
The journal also reveals the fate of another prisoner, one who left at home a woman with an unborn son. Now forty, that child, Thomas Allen, who has just buried the man he believed to be his ‘real’ father, seeks to solve the puzzle of his long-lost family and his mother’s greatest secret. As he traces the elderly Heng Souk, he begins a perilous relationship with the man’s married niece.
Product Summary on Amazon:
When her father dies, Sun visits his estranged brother, Heng Souk to return a surprise package. Yet her frail uncle is a very different man from her tough and testing father. When she discovers in his possession a notebook written by an American POW detailing his torturous relationship with his captor, she is startled by what she learns.
Meanwhile, Thomas Allen, still reeling from the death of his daughter and the breakup of his marriage, is told that the man he always called Dad was not his biological father. His mother gives him a batch of letters she still has from the ‘real’ disappeared father. Their tragically unresolved love story prompts Thomas to find out why his mother’s ‘greatest love’ never returned to her after the Vietnam War.
His search leads him to the notorious prison ‘the Citadel’, and to Sun and her uncle. Despite the hostility of her brutal husband and deceitful mother, Sun and Thomas begin a perilous relationship. Aware that the fate of Thomas’ father is revealed in Ephraim’s notebook, she is torn between helping Thomas in his search and the damaging effect revealing what is in the notebook will mean for all of them.
Details about the book:
Title: The Collection of Heng Souk
Author: S R Wilsher
File size: 521 KB
Text to speech: Enabled
Average Customer review: 5 stars!!!!!
Okay, so this is really interesting...it is rare that a book gets an average 5 star rating! So it automatically makes it a must-read!
I have personally not read the book, though the author was kind enough to offer me to read it, the only problem being that I cannot read on a screen and this is a Kindle edition (which, I know, is what many many readers want!!) :-)
If you are still deciding, you can read the reviews here and buy it on Amazon: CLICK HERE
And here is another really descriptive and great review!
You can also buy the books here:
In the UK
In the US
To help you decide further, here is an excerpt from the book.
Sun rapped lightly on the open door of her uncle’s hut and saw the top of his head over the back of the comfy chair twist to see who was disturbing him.
The hut seemed different today. The first time she had been bothered by its sad neglect and how it shouted about a decline in circumstance; today it seemed like a pleasant place to while away time reading.
He put his book down and crossed to the sink. He ran water into the kettle without speaking as he had the other day, as if that was what was expected. She suspected he had no other visitors. He didn’t greet her and nor did he invite her inside, but she stepped in anyway.
The silence was awkward because he did not know why she was there and she was unsure how to explain her presence. She had many questions for him. She wanted to discuss his dialysis, but to launch straight in made her feel intrusive. She wanted to talk about the notebook, but she was afraid she would get the same
reaction as before. More than anything she wanted to ask about her mother and him, and about her father and the gun, but was unsure whether an understanding would be of any benefit to her. Her mother had been evasive and her uncle had been guilty. It hadn’t occurred to her until she replayed the dialogue of their last meeting in her mind as she drove home, but he had known when she was born. There was a story about her father and her mother and her uncle that had been kept secret from her.
“It’s a long drive from Hanoi,” he said. It was a statement with so many questions living inside.
“I came to see how you were,” she began. “To speak with you about your dialysis.” She plumped for the one topic that pointed to his welfare. It was also the one she could use her professional experience to hide behind.
As she said the word, she saw the irritation flash across his face but she was not deterred.
“Why do you miss sessions? It’s critical that you keep the fluid from building up inside of you, and rid yourself of toxins. Dialysis will keep you alive. You know this.”
“You have a doctor’s perspective.” He turned towards her to speak and his relaxed features softened his words. “It’s not the same as a patient’s. It’s much like the war; you have only heard of it, it’s not the same.”
“That’s not fair.”
“It doesn’t have to be fair, it need only be accurate.”
“I concede the war is outside of my experience, but I understand your illness. I know about the fistula problems, and the weariness, the cramps, the dull diet, the constant tablets, and the four or five hours, three days a week hooked to a machine. I know about all that.”
He shook his head in contradiction.
“That’s what you see as a doctor, but that’s not what I feel as a patient. The pain and the discomfort are tolerable. The invisible ogre is the dependency on the machine; it’s impossible to escape its persistence at being in your life. It becomes like a debt-collector you can never satisfy.”
“You might get a transplant. If you had come to us we may have been able to help – my father would have helped.”
“I would not have accepted it.”
“Because the gratitude would have been beyond me. “
She was unsure if the family rift would have generated his refusal, or because he was an island that always wanted to stand alone, forever free of visitors.
“It doesn’t matter; it will all mean nothing in a thousand years,” he added.
He had a talent for ending a discussion. There was a certainty in his words that could make her flinch, death before gratitude, and oblivion over preservation.
Yet she was also content for it to end there. She did not want to battle with him over his treatment, and she understood the damaging psychology of his illness better than she had revealed, she had more selfish concerns.
She had stopped reading the notebook when he had killed a man, but its memory had been with her constantly. She had asked why in her mind a hundred different ways, but she had not been able to form one question that she felt would draw a proper answer. Instead, she had decided to see if time would yield a response.
Before she had met him in the bar, she had hoped to find a man not unlike her father, perhaps an ersatz stand-in for that gulf in her life now. She had found no such thing, but she was willing to persist if only to sees hints or shadows of her father. It was all she had now.
“Have you been back to the prison since the war ended?”
Her question had taken him by surprise and she felt a little surge of pleasure at disturbing his equilibrium.
“Where is it?”
“That’s only a few hours by car. Would you like to visit?”
About the author:
Simon Wilsher lives in Dorset, England, working as a Research Administrator. He is married with two grown up children. He has been writing all his adult life, with his career and his writing each suffering as a result of the other. It’s only recently that he has stopped pretending about a career.
- Debolina Raja Gupta