Nov 3, 2011

Books on Vietnam: Selected Novels

Titles available in English
By various Vietnamese Authors
Book Category: Fiction: Novels

Title:The Gangster We Are All Looking For
by le thi diem thuy
About the Author: 
thuy, a Vietnamese-American performance artist as well as a writer, has developed a
style of non-linear storytelling that is almost like poetry. In this account of one
Vietnamese immigrant family’s experiences in America, the tiniest details—the color of a
swimming pool, the cut of a man’s suit—lead the reader to a deeper understanding of the
most complex, and often heartbreaking, emotions.

Title:The Book of Salt
by Monique Truong
About the Author: 
Truong, a first-generation Vietnamese-American, has written a novel that examines the
lives of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas from a very intriguing perspective: that of the
Vietnamese cook who worked for them in their home in France. By contrasting his very 
personal point of view with what we know of their public lives, Truong throws light on 
the figures who remain in the background of history, but whose own private stories can 
be equally captivating.

Title: Grass Roof, Tin Roof and The Gentle Order of Girls and Boy
by Dao Strom
About the Author: 
Strom, who also grew up in the United States, writes in a style that is graceful and 
beautiful to read. Her characters are both complicated and utterly believable. Her stories
illuminate the experience of being non-white in America, but, more importantly, they 
illuminate the experience of being human in America, an experience to which everyone
can relate, but not every author can capture with so much intelligence, wit, and luminous

Title: Paradise of the Blind
By Duong Thu Huong
About the Author: 
Huong, one of Vietnam’s leading writers and a well-known dissident there, presents a
view of post-war Vietnam that is both barren of joy and rich with the textures of every 
day existence. The story is a testament to the waste and corruption that followed the
hardship of war, but it’s also brimming with details that will make you yearn to go there. 
Nobody can write about Vietnamese food like Huong can. Also, try Novel Without a
Name (about the war years) and Memories of a Pure Spring, by the same author.

Title:The Sorrow of War
By Bao Ninh
About the Author: 
In my classes on Vietnamese literature, I like to pair Bao Ninh’s Sorrow of War with Tim
O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. There’s no better way to recognize the commonality 
of the tragedy suffered by Vietnamese and American soldiers during the war than to read
these books and see the startling similarities in their accounts of hopelessness, alienation, 
and despair. Bao Ninh’s story of the soldier Kien is a beautifully written, and angry,
testament to how much the Vietnamese people suffered, not only at the hands of 
Americans but also at the hands of their own leaders.

Title:The Quiet American
by Graham Greene
About the Author: 
This novel sets a captivating story of love and espionage against the backdrop of a
Vietnam few non-Vietnamese ever had a chance to see—Saigon in the years just before
the United States got involved there. The place has changed so much since then, but one
only has to step into one of the old cafes in downtown Ho Chi Minh City to get a feel of 
what Greene experienced way back then.

Title:The Women on the Island
By Ho Anh Thai
About the Author: 
Thai’s surreal novel looks at how the years of war in Vietnam affected the Vietnamese
people, women in particular. Centered on Cat Ba Island off the coast of Vietnam, the
story examines how, after having struggled for years to achieve Vietnam’s victory in the
war, a group of women find that their country at peace has no place for them.


YourVietBooks is a selection of books and articles on and about Vietnam. Categories include: Culture, History, Vietnam War, Politics, Biographies, Contemporary Vietnam, International Relations, Doing Business in Vietnam, Reference and Languages, Zen Buddhism, Philosophy, Art and Literature.
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