‘How to Pronounce Knife’ by Souvankham Thammavongsa: Life on the Margins

by Bella Davis

In her debut  story collection, How to Pronounce Knife (192 pages; Little Brown), Souvankham Thammavongsa focuses on power and privilege, connection and isolation. Born in a refugee camp in Thailand to Lao parents and raised in Canada, Thammavongsa centers the day-to-day lives of immigrants in fourteen stories, written in a precise and emotionally devastating style.   In the titular story, a young girl brings a book home from school to practice reading and asks her father for help pronouncing a word she’s never encountered. The next day in class she’s tasked with reading aloud and is sent to the principal’s office […]

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