Viet Thanh Nguyen
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In The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to lives led between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration. The second piece of fiction by a major new voice, The Refugees is a beautifully written and sharply observed book about the aspirations of those who leave one country for another, and the relationships and desires for self-fulfillment that define our lives.
Longing and loss infuse these tales of damaged war veterans, tough women and children caught between two cultures, memorably rendered in Nguyen's lapidary prose. * Evening Standard, Best Summer Beach Reads * The nine stories that make up this brief volume are a delight . . . The short story is a beautiful affirmation of the supreme importance of art in our daily lives. And Viet Thanh Nguyen drives that point home brilliantly. * Mekong Review * Precise without being clinical, archly humorous without being condescending, and full of understanding; many of the stories might have been written by a modern Flaubert, if that master had spent time in San Jose or Ho Chi Minh City . . . [Nguyen's] stories, excellent from start to finish, transcend ethnic boundaries to speak to human universals. * Kirkus Reviews (starred review) * For Nguyen groupies desperate for future titles (including a Sympathizer sequel), [The] Refugees is a highly gratifying interlude. For short fiction fans of other extraordinary, between-culture collections such as Daniyal Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders and Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth, Nguyen won't disappoint. * Library Journal (starred review) * A collection of fluidly modulated yet bracing stories about Vietnamese refugees in the US, powerful tales of rupture and loss that detonate successive shock waves . . . Each intimate, supple, and heartrending story is unique in its particulars even as all are works of piercing clarity, poignant emotional nuance, and searing insights into the trauma of war and the long chill of exile, the assault on identity and the resilience of the self, and the fragility and preciousness of memories. * Booklist (starred review) * A book that holds your interest . . . Unpretentious, deliberate and well-observed collection. * The Irish Times * The Refugees is the book we need now . . . The most timely short story collection in recent memory . . . The stories in The Refugees [are] haunting and heart-wrenching, but also wry and unapologetic in their humanity . . . Throughout, Nguyen demonstrates the richness of the refugee experience, while also foregrounding the very real trauma that lies at its core. * BuzzFeed * The 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner returns with a beautifully crafted collection that explores the netherworld of Vietnamese refugees, whose lives and cultural dislocation he dissects with precision and grace. * O, The Oprah Magazine * Beautiful and heartrending * the New Yorker, Joyce Carol Oates * Poignant . . . Nguyen writes most movingly of the debt of safety and freedom . . . Nguyen's stories are to be admired for their ability to encompass not only the trauma of forced migration but also the grand themes of identity, the complications of love and sexuality, and the general awkwardness of being. For all their serious qualities, they are also humorous and smart . . . The form of the short story seems to come to Nguyen effortlessly. * Financial Times * [A] superb collection . . . exquisite stories . . . Nguyen crafts dazzlingly lucid prose. * the Observer * A powerful antidote to all the fearmongering and lies out there . . . A rich exploration of human identity, family ties and love and loss, never has a short story collection been timelier. ***** Five stars. * the Independent * With anger but not despair, with reconciliation but not unrealistic hope, and with genuine humour that is not used to diminish anyone, Nguyen has breathed life into many unforgettable characters, and given us a timely book focusing, in the words of Willa Cather, on "the slow working out of fate in people of allied sentiment and allied blood" * the Guardian * Nguyen's eight heart-wrenching and hopeful stories ought to be required reading for every politician in this era of wall-building and xenophobia. * The Guardian, Fiction to Look Out for in 2017 *
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