By Mark Sasse
“My heart sank. I dumped my father’s ashes in the heart of communist Vietnam – over a thousand miles from the death of his comrades – over a thousand miles from the smile of that girl. How could I have been so stupid?”
Only the bumbling, overweight, thirtyish, stay-at-home Martin Kinney could have mistakenly flubbed his dying father’s request with such gusto. This thousand mile mistake awakens the ghosts of long-held family secrets and puts Martin on a fateful course with an unlikely romantic interest – a young, beautiful, yet troubled Vietnamese woman named My Phuong.
With its cross-cultural setting and unlikely romance, the 61,000 word novel Beauty Rising creates a powerful, unique voice in today’s literature. In a swift-moving, dialogue-driven prose which is funny, honest, tragic and unpredictable, Beauty Rising explores the depths of culture, family, and love as the Vietnam War, a generation removed, continues to hang on the periphery of society, cursing families and causing destruction.
BEAUTY RISING is both a romance and a historical novel. Martin, the 30-year-old son of highly dysfunctional parents, is determined to fulfill his father’s death wish – to scatter his ashes near a large protruding rock under two banana trees, by a lake in Vietnam. Martin scatters his dad’s ashes according to his wishes, but soon discovers he took them to the wrong lake, wrong banana trees. Only the beginning of his bad luck, Martin’s wallet is stolen, and without any money or credit cards, he comes under the wing of a Vietnamese taxi driver and an American English teacher for the remainder of his stay. After returning home, Martin is unable to forget the beautiful, young woman who he believes stole his wallet.
My Phuong’s life couldn’t get any worse. The daughter of a pastor, My Phuong escaped as the corrupt ruling party arrested her parents and brothers for illegally praying in the open. After hearing that her parents were dead, she left her home and traveled north. Reduced to life as a pickpocket, hairdresser, and prostitute, My Phuong flees Vietnam to save her life.
Sasse portrays the two main characters and their emotional struggles with sensitivity. This colorfully written saga of two unfortunate people across the miles from the United States to Vietnam and back, clearly shows the author researched his book in depth.
An emotionally charged story of love, redemption, and heartbreak, BEAUTY RISING is a book you do not want to miss.
About the Author
Mark is a proud Western PA native but has lived most of the last twenty years in Vietnam and Malaysia. His experiences in Asia have redefined everything including his palate, his outlook on life, and naturally his writing. You can find him most days cruising around Penang Island, eating the local delicacies and taking in the sun and exotic breezes as he looks for interesting places to write.
He has authored four novels with number five and six already somewhere on the horizon. His interests cast a wide net – from politics to literature – to culture and language – to history and religion – making his writing infused with the unexpected as he seeks to tell authentic and engaging stories about people from all walks of life. His writing is straightforward and accessible to all, especially those who enjoy writing injected with doses of Asian culture, history, adventure, and delightful humor. You never know what you might get when you pick up a Sasse novel.
Besides novel-writing, Sasse is a prolific dramatist, having written and produced more than a dozen full-length dramatic productions. He especially is fond of the short play format and has twice won the Best Script award at the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival Penang. His plays and short musicals have also been produced in Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, Australia. Performances of his scripts also won Gold and Bronze medals at the Southeast Asian Forensics Competition 2014.
His professional background is as diverse as his writing. He holds Master’s degrees from California State University Dominquez Hills and Azusa Pacific University in Humanities and TESOL respectively. His undergraduate degree was in English, which helped him develop his passion for creative writing. He has extensive experience in teaching English, history, and drama.
On top of all of this, he loves to cook everything from gourmet pizzas, to Mexican, to various Asian dishes. Flavor is the key of both his cooking and his writing. He very much hopes you enjoy the taste. (Biography is from Goodreads.com)
Amazon Author Page: Mark Sasse Amazon Author Page