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Extended Audio Sample The Beauty of Humanity Movement: A Novel Audiobook, by Camilla Gibb Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,190 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Camilla Gibb Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2013 ISBN: 9781449867645
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This deeply observed novel of contemporary Vietnam interweaves stories of a venerable soup seller, a young Vietnamese American curator, and an enterprising tour guide in ways that will mark all of their lives forever.

Maggie, an art curator who is Vietnamese by birth but who has lived most of her life in the United States, has returned to her country of origin in search of clues to her dissident father’s disappearance. She remembers him only in fragments, as an injured artist from whom she and her mother were separated during the war. In her journey, Maggie finds herself at a makeshift pho stall, where the rich aroma of beef noodle soup lures people off Hanoi's busy streets and into a quiet morning ritual.

Old Man Hung, the enlightened proprietor of the beloved pho stall, has survived decades of poverty and political upheaval. Hung once had a shop that served as a meeting place for dissident artists, and Maggie discovers that the old man may hold the key to both her past and her future.

Among Hung’s most faithful customers is Tu’, a dynamic young tour guide who works for a company called New Dawn. Tu’ leads tourists through the city, including American vets on war tours, but he has begun to wonder what they are seeing of Vietnam—and what they miss entirely. In Maggie, he finds a young Americanized woman in search of something quite different, leading him beyond his realm of expertise. In sensual, interwoven narratives, Maggie, Hung, and Tu’ come together in a highly charged season that will mark all of them forever.

The Beauty of Humanity Movement is a skillfully wrought novel about the reverberation of conflict through generations, the enduring legacy of art, and the redemption and renewal of love.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Gibb’s fictional portrait of contemporary Vietnam should be essential reading for anyone mulling a visit to Hanoi, whose profusion of motorbike traffic and culinary aromas issues from these pages with graphic verisimilitude. Gibb uses the city’s street food and thriving art scene to reflect both continuity and change.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Camilla Gibb drapes her story over good strong bones—characters (including the grandson of a poet friend of Hung’s) that span several generations, the nobility of the artists in contrast to the war and its political players. But the true beauty of the novel radiates from the details—the smell of the soup, the feeling of the early-morning streets, the sense of community in poverty, and the community woven by memories.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Gibb has made a loving, wise, tender, dreamy, and insightful work of fiction about a loosely linked group of ordinary citizens trying to make the most in contemporary Hanoi.”


  • “Gibb ties the strands of the narrative together...with care, with gentleness, and with reality. She employs all the senses to create a vivid aesthetic tapestry. Seeing such hope in the face of such adversity is uplifting.”

    Globe and Mail (Toronto)

  • “Jennifer Ikeda is a good choice for a novel that needs an Asian sensibility to subtly dramatize the action...[She] manages history, description, and a fair amount of cultural explanation deftly, keeping the listener’s interest.”


  • “Through the very different perspectives of these three, Gibb fluidly takes the reader from the bitter years of war to the Hanoi that has emerged in the reform era, which, despite all its modernization, is still a mystery to many of us.”


  • “Well written and engaging, with characters that represent the participants and consequences of a country in the middle of great change, this work is recommended where [Amy] Tan and similar authors are appreciated.”

    Library Journal

  • Selected for the April 2011 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alyssa | 2/20/2014

    " I just really, really like pho. The agonizingly detailed descriptions kept me (more like my stomach) intrigued until around page 200, when I finally had some really good pho myself. After that I didn't really have any desire to finish the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Myhoa | 2/15/2014

    " As a historical fiction goes, it was pretty good. Captivating as it sheds light on new details of Vietnamese life during and after the war. The stitching together of time and generations was quite good. The sexual references weren't necessary (I am never sure why authors feel these are required.) and honestly would have been better without them. I think the way of the Vietnamese people really comes to light - and it shows particularly the humility that some cultures never gain. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janet Nodell | 2/7/2014

    " Really liking this so far. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karma Gyatso | 1/16/2014

    " Interesting story revolving around the dialectic between Vietnam just after the war under Ho Chi Minh and present day. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna | 1/4/2014

    " A beautiful story - entertaining, touching, moving, at times heart wrenching but never depressing. Really well written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kshydog | 1/3/2014

    " A fictional look at life after the war and currently in Vietnam through the memory of a soup maker. It made you think of how much a person can do to make life bearable and how important relationships are for living. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rick | 12/31/2013

    " Enjoyable read. Came to care for the characters and glean some insight in Vietnam. Time well spent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 My-linh Ma | 11/3/2013

    " Thank you Sajeda for giving me this wonderful book about self-discovery, about my culture and roots, about a young woman who journeys to Viet Nam, a journey not quite like mine, but somehow reflecting much of my experience in this beautiful country my parents call home. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelley | 9/26/2013

    " 7 out of 10....couldn't help be a tad disappointed after loving Sweetness in the Belly to such a degree. No doubt she is a wonderful author, I just couldn't connect to the characters as much as I wanted to. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jackie Kehl | 9/5/2013

    " This is the story of a young Vietnamese-American who returns to Vietnam to learn about her father. Even more, it is the story of a pho seller that weaves among the 1930s, 1950s, and the present (early 2000) and presents a good picture of his life in those times. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Laurel | 8/1/2013

    " Though well written I was a little disappointed as this didn't grab me like Gibb's novel Sweetness in the Belly. I liked the way the characters cared for each other, and created 'family.' "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 serena | 5/5/2013

    " Lovely book. All the writing of pho has me hankering for a bowl of yummy goodness. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie | 4/3/2013

    " Interesting book set in Vietnam. I learned more about what it must have been like to live there through a time where art was considered subversive. Prose was beautiful, as were the characters. Not a stand out, but definitely worth a read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Veronica Sanche | 12/14/2012

    " Another 3 1/2. This novel had a slow start but once you figured out who all the characters were and the plot, the novel became touching in its presentation of the struggles of three families dealing with their memories and its consequences during Vietnam's struggles in the 70's. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pam | 11/5/2012

    " 3.5 stars. A lovely story about an impoverished elderly soup maker in current day Vietnam and the people he calls "family". "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joanne Miller/Joanne Orion Miller | 8/11/2012

    " What a beautifully written book. Gibb's pacing and characterizations are flawless. This tale of a group of Vietnamese and a woman who has come back from America to "find her roots" is so seamless that it's hard to believe Gibb didn't live it and report it as it happened. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ashlee | 5/16/2012

    " Enjoyable, easy read. Good for reading at the beach or in Asia. Enjoyed the way the book looked at the intersection of the old and the new in contemporary Vietnam. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kate | 4/23/2012

    " One of the BEST books I have ever read..such a sweet, sad love story of men and their friends. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angela | 11/23/2011

    " I'm headed to Vietnam next week and wanted to read this book before heading there. Good insight into Vietnamese history from the perspective of a few generations. The story was a bit predictable at times but I enjoyed this quick read and the info it provided - especially concerning Vietnamese food! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 11/6/2011

    " I learned that pho is supposedly really good there.... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lena | 8/26/2011

    " Great easy read, beautiful characters "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 6/22/2011

    " Really enjoyed it - brought the character of Vietnam alive. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom | 6/15/2011

    " Seemed like the story was over once the characters were developed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea | 6/13/2011

    " I really thought this deserved 3 1/2, but considering some of the 3s... This book provided a window into Hanoi that was new and revealing. Slow, but steady with some unforgettable characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Daniel | 6/11/2011

    " Aside from being a great read, this made me hungry for Pho! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jackie | 5/25/2011

    " This books shows contemporary Vietnamise life while recounting much of the history of this country. We are given a look into North Vietnam through the eyes of a woman sho is Vietnamese by birth but has spent much fo her life in America. "

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About the Author
Author Camilla Gibb

Camilla Gibb was born in London and grew up in Toronto. She has a PhD in social anthropology from Oxford, for which she conducted fieldwork in Ethiopia. Her novels, Mouthing the Words, winner of the City of Toronto Book Award in 2000, and The Petty Details of So-and-So’s Life have been published in eighteen countries and translated into fourteen languages, receiving rave reviews all around the world. She is one of twenty-one writers on the Orange Futures List—a list of young writers to watch, compiled by the jury of the prestigious Orange Prize. She serves as vice president of PEN Canada and is currently writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto.

About the Narrator

Jennifer Ikeda has been narrating audiobooks since 2002. Among her readings are When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park; Just Listen by Sarah Dessen; and After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away by Joyce Carol Oates. She has won six AudioFile Earphones Awards.