a beaute of a young metisse is devant vous
During an appearance at the Viet Nam House in Paris, Kim Lefevre read from her autobiography, Metisse blanche. She described the text as a “roman.” Unlike other autobiographies, which often portray only the author’s personal story, Metisse blanche presents a history of the trajectory of the individual, as well as of the many others whose lives were shaped by her experiences.
The novel is an intriguing account of adolescence for a bi-racial girl who grows up in the colonial provinces of Vietnam. She never knew her father, but is raised by her extended family. In the novel, she sees herself as both Vietnamese and French. She is influenced by the culture and religion of both nations, and finds herself identifying with both. She also becomes a symbol of collaboration and betrayal during her years in colonial Viet Nam. She is a powerful character, and her work complicates our expectations of women in Vietnam and beyond.
The title of Lefevre’s autobiography is derived from the French word tisser, which means to weave two different threads together. It is also a translation of the word beaute, which is an Old French word meaning fairness. The term is commonly translated as “heavenly,” but it can be used to describe anything from a physical to a spiritual beauty. Likewise, the adjectives bewte and con gai are used to describe the character of Metisse.