From Publishers Weekly
This third publication in Curbstone's Voices from Viet Nam series blends pointed contemporary social and political observations with an emotional tale of love, art and personal tribulation set in and around present-day Hanoi. Protagonist Khiem is the director of the cultural affairs division of General Department T, a publishing house charged with circulating departmental speeches, resolutions, internal documents and some poetry and fiction. Khiem himself is a high-minded writer and includes his own work among the division's publications. At home, the brazen infidelity of his wifeAwho has had several abortions resulting from her extramarital affairsAhas doomed his marriage. At work, Khiem depends on the companionship of Hoan, a smart, pretty proofreader. They have loved each other for 10 years, but have only recently consummated their relationship. Khiem's unorthodox latest novel provides the ammunition his personal enemies and jealous subordinates need to ban his book and remove him from his job. His health and spirit are broken by the trauma of his betrayal, and he is further incapacitated when his wife invites the ministrations of a charlatan herbalist, her latest suitor. Hoan, too, is forced out of work and traffics opium in order to survive. Khang (The Silver Coin; Borderlands; An Unofficial Marriage) offers a vivid, critical rendering of a complex and rapidly changing society, only occasionally mired down by heavy-handed similes. He invokes both recent history and ancient legend to contextualize not only the struggles of Khiem and Hoan to recover and reunite, but also the loyalties, betrayals and rationalizations of their associates. Themes of integrity, idealism, love, friendship, art, opportunism, corruption and betrayal run throughout this probing vision of a world largely unfamiliar to Western readers. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"...a vivid and compelling portrait of life in Vietnam today." -- Los Angeles Times
"Themes of integrity, idealism, love, friendship, art, opportunity, corruption, and betrayal run throughout this probing vision..." -- Publishers Weekly
"At its core, the book delivers a poetic defense of literature as a tool for uncovering the truth." -- The Weekly Alibi