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No Man's Land Paperback – June 13, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Acclaimed author and political dissident Huong (Memories of a Pure Spring, etc.) takes a hard look at the long-term repercussions of war in her latest novel. The luxuriantly beautiful village of Mountain Hamlet in central Vietnam is the setting for the story of Mein, a woman who learns that the husband she married 14 years ago and lived with for only a few weeks before he was sent off to fight in the Vietnam War, has actually survived and returned to claim her. Though she deeply loves her current husband, Hoan, and their son, she feels pressured by the strictures of her Communist community to return to her first husband, Bon, to honor the sacrifice he made for his country. The decision proves even harder because of Bon's repulsive physical condition and the abject poverty in which he lives. In long flashbacks, the novel follows Bon through his war experiences, and Hoan through the troubled events of his own past and present, revealing much about Vietnamese society in the process. This technique humanizes Hoan and Bon even as they each idolize Mein and her demure beauty. The outsize emotions of the two men and the tropical landscape lend an air of melodrama, but Mein's more calculating sensibility and the complicated choices she makes to satisfy herself and society keep the novel from descending into sentimentality. Agent, Anna Soler-Pont at Pontas Literary and Film Agency. (Apr. 13)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Banned dissident Vietnamese author Huong continues to write lyrical, psychologically astute, and extraordinarily affecting novels. As she did in Memories of a Pure Spring (2000), and does even more acutely here, Huong evokes the beauty of the land, Vietnam's ancient traditions, and the timeless rhythms of daily life in counterpoint to the tragedies of communist oppression and war. Elegant Mien and her thoughtful and successful husband, Hoan, seem blessed until Bon, Mien's first husband, a soldier long believed dead, suddenly reappears. As Huong dramatizes in flashbacks almost surreal in their intensity and strangeness, Bon has endured horrors beyond comprehension, and is now a broken man with only one dream, to be reunited with Mien. All the villagers seem to believe that he has every right to ask Mien to forfeit her domestic paradise and join him in his hovel, and his misery. Privy to the anguished thoughts of each character caught in this strangling web of desperation, duty, sacrifice, desire, compassion, and rage, Huong spins a captivating tale precise in details and grand in scope. A ravishing novel that exquisitely parses the nature of war and peace, material and spiritual poverty and wealth, self and community, coercion and love. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; Reprint edition (June 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786888571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786888573
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
The characters hug your mind long after you finish the story.
kathy rose
Definitely worth it, and I'll probably keep my copy for another read some years down the road.
mandy
Incredibly atmospheric, this book is very well written and translated.
ededwards

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Thai A. Nguyen-khoa on August 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
How many people living in America or elsewhere have actually removed themselves from this war-weary time, when just or unjust its outcome has afflicted the human race in more ways than one?

So is it a reader's blessing to dwell into Huong's No Man's Land without getting bogged down in human's abyss of deepest despair and forlornness? Because without prior knowledge or preconceived notion of the Viet-Nam conflict: he or she maybe able to escape the author's unmerciful portrait of life and subtle but inexorable allegories to today's Viet-Nam.

While it is more refreshing that first time readers may not discern the political undertone in Duong Thu Huong's latest novel and enjoy its tranche de vie, a love-after-war novel that revolves around some half dozen principal characters, there is no escaping the larger picture for readers familiar with Viet-Nam and the author's background as a dissident writer, that her works have been banned and her prose considered underground literature in Viet-Nam. (1)

However, it's misleading to even group this novel under the underground literature genre. Her evocative and poetic style is as rich and sanguine as any bourgeois writer competing and aspiring (on equal footing) to uplift the human spirit despite its bleak human condition. There is hardly a trace of bitterness in her prose. In fact one can detect Huong's incorrigible capitalist `dolce vita' oozing out of her characters' thoughts and actions, so much that it causes an embarrassment of riches and makes one wonder: is the original sin in socialism is to curb human tendency to live the good life?

If it weren't for the fact that No Man's Land is a translated work, one would readily esteem it as a beautiful literary piece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maud on October 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. I didn't read it in English but in French so I do not know how good the translation is. However I assume the French and English versions are similar. The story is tragic, the characters are captivating, and the descriptions make you want to discover Vietnam. I also found a lot of wisdom in this novel. I strongly recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books that I have ever read. I could not put it down! This book is a tragic love story but at the same time there are great moral lessons about loyalty and dignity in the face of adversity. Her prose is almost poetic at points. I have read other books by this author that were also very good, and plan to read the remaining novels by her. What a gift to find such an author!
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By Sheila B on August 25, 2014
Format: Paperback
Depressing as all hell, yet a fascinating look into a culture after a war. Kept me captivated with how appalling it was based on cultural expectations and how insane people can be or become no matter where they live, how attachments claw at everyone. A deeper look at more of the horrors of war especially in one's own land and the intensity of the survival instincts.
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By Jason Jones on August 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Only in Seattle would I have run into Duong Thu Huong. This book was not my Duong Thu Huong (go ahead, ask for it at any bookstore and you get looks)cherry, but I've read everything she's written and I want more. An amazing look into Vietnam that will make you want to know more.
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