Mr Linh is an old man. He left his war-devastated village with only a small suitcase containing a few worn clothes, a yellowing photograph, and a handful of earth from his homeland. In his arms, he cradles a newborn baby. Sang Diû’s parents are dead, and Mr Linh has decided to take her, his granddaughter, with him. After a long boat journey, they arrive in a cold grey city crowded with hundreds of refugees. Mr Linh has lost everything. From now on, he has to share a room with other displaced people, people who mock him for his clumsiness. In this town where everyone ignores everyone else, he nevertheless finds a friend in Mr Bark, a fat, solitary man. They do not speak the same language, yet they understand the musicality of words and the subtle language of gestures. Mr Linh is a pure heart, wounded by wars and losses, who lives only for his grand-daughter. Philippe Claudel treats his characters with graceful respect. His book celebrates universal themes – friendship, compassion – with the elegance and transparency of the great classics of literature.