Oh, what a beautiful, wonderful book. At first I thought I would resist it, since I wasn't sure how to pronounce the names and thought that would trip me up all the way through - but very quickly, the story took me over. Moving, touching, affirming. All you need to know, really, is that it's about a man who makes soup in Hanoi, Vietnam; he is the locus and the catalyst for all that happens. There is a handful of other important characters, all connected to him. The layering and texture of this novel is marvellous. AshRichards' comment about the ending surprises me very much - I couldn't have asked for anything more.