Before Bình reveals his decision, he catapults back to his youth in French-colonized Vietnam, his years as a galley hand at sea, and his days turning out repasts for the doyennes of the Lost Generation. With wry insight, he views the Steins ensconced in rueful domesticity. But is Bình's account reliable? A lost soul, he is a late-night habitué 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. 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.