An author with a Pulitzer Prize award, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s writing imbues a sense of delicacy to the experiences of the Vietnamese immigrant and refugee communities. In capturing their diverse stories, he takes on the responsibility of letting their lived realities manoeuvre the direction of the narrative.
I was somewhat intimidated to pick up this short story collection simply because of the depth of the topics covered. I feared that it might be too emotionally exhaustive to read. But that wasn’t the case.
While hardships and loss are a recurring occurrence across several stories in this collection, Nguyen also focuses on certain simple aspects to paint a pragmatic picture about the lives of immigrants. From their romantic relationships to cultural assimilation, illnesses to political affiliations, you get a glimpse of various perspectives in these 8 stories.
I liked the first four stories in this collection the best. The ones after that weren’t as interesting – in the sense that it felt purposeless, like a few instances strung together to form a rough idea about characters.
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s writing is easy to understand. You’ll have no trouble trying to grasp what he intends to communicate. I’d say that the insight you get about the woes and aspirations of refugees makes it worth the read.