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Marble Mountain Paperback – January 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Curbstone Books (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931896437
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931896436
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,183,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"[A] fine story of searching for one's genealogy with many mystery elements...an enjoyable read."—Midwest Book Review: The Fiction Shelf

"There's a new war on, and little learning from the old wars, particularly the American war in Viet Nam, the long war whose consequences we can't seem to shake off. Through the points-of-view of veterans—their side and ours—and one of their offspring, a "child of the dust," Wayne Karlin revisits Viet Nam. The reader of Marble Mountain goes on a journey of understanding and possible forgiveness. A vital book."

—Maxine Hong Kingston

"Readers familiar with Karlin will be delighted to return to the lives of Alex and Louise Hallam and their feisty half-Vietnamese, half-Black, almost-All-American adopted daughter Kiet. Readers new to Karlin will be drawn in by Nguyen Binh Duong, Le Thanh Thuy, and Sergeant Swan. Once again, Karlin demonstrates his wonderful ability to stitch together disparate worlds into a seamless whole. Once again, Karlin demonstrates that he is one heck of a good storyteller."

—W. D. Ehrhart

Book Description

Marble Mountain reads like a detective story as the protagonist, Kiet Hallam, an adopted daughter of African American and Vietnamese descent, searches for her true identity. Set in both America and Vietnam, and written from the perspective of both Americans and Vietnamese affected by the war, Marble Mountain explores the lasting damages of war to the soldiers who fought on both sides, to their families, and to the displaced and wounded children born during their parents’ conflict.

Kiet and her adoptive father, Alex Hallam—a Vietnam veteran working out his own tormented past through his passion for sculpting—travel to Vietnam. There, at Marble Mountain, a formation near Danang that is famous for its stone carvers and cave shrines, both will find the unresolved secrets of the past that connected them to each other even before Kiet was born.

More About the Author

Wayne Karlin has published seven novels: Marble Mountain, The Wished-For Country, Prisoners, Lost Armies, The Extras, Us, and Crossover, and three works of creative non-fiction: Rumors and Stones, War Movies, and Wandering Souls: Journeys with the Dead and the Living in Viet Nam. While he is perhaps best known for his books about the aftermath of the Vietnam War, he has also written a historical novel set in 17th Century Maryland, a spy novel centered in Eastern Europe and another novel set in the Middle East. His writing career began after service as a Marine in the Vietnam War when he became an editor of Curbstone Press and co-edited the first anthology of veterans' fiction from the war: Free Fire Zone: Short Stories by Vietnam Veterans. More recently, as American editor for Curbstone's Voices from Vietnam series, he has edited and adapted translations of writers from Vietnam, including (with Le Minh Khue and Truong Vu), The Other Side of Heaven: Postwar Fiction by Vietnamese and American Writers, which was listed as a Critics' Choice for 1995-1996, and (with Ho Anh Thai) Love After War: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam, an anthology chosen by The San Francisco Chronicle as one of the 100 best books of 2003. Karlin was one of the script writers and a consultant for the film Song of the Stork, a Vietnamese-Singaporean co-production which has won the Best Feature Film title at the Milano Film Festival, was the first Asian film chosen in the Official Selection of the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily, Italy and was in the Official Selection of the Reflection of Our Time category of the Montreal Film Festival and has been shown in other festivals in Belgium, Canada and Thailand. He was the consulting producer and writer for a six part National Public Radio radio series on the aftermath of the Vietnam war. Karlin has received five State of Maryland Individual Artist Awards in Fiction, two Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Paterson Prize in Fiction for 1999 (with Barbara Kingsolver), and the Vietnam Veterans of American Excellence in Arts Award in 2005. A Professor of Languages and Literature at the College of Southern Maryland, Karlin is married to Ohnmar Thein Karlin, and has one son, the travel writer Adam Karlin.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Guenther on January 5, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a former Marine captain who served in the Marble Mountain area, let me first say that Wayne Karlin knows his subject, and he has woven quite a tale around the character of Kiet. In addition, being familiar with the setting of Nui Kim Son and what the Vietnamese call Thuy Son, and what we Marines once called Chin-strap, he recreates the setting and atmosphere perfectly through his powerful and evocative scenes. I found his Vietnamese characters to be authentic, especially Duong and Thuy. His depiction of the role the CAC Marines is accurate, and Gunnery Sergeant George Swan could have been someone I once knew. I found "Marble Mountain" by Wayne Karlin to be one of the best novels written about the Vietnam War that I have read. To say that the book is both compelling and a work of artistic complexity is an understatement. This is truly an excellent and superior work of fiction! Captain Dan Guenther, USMC
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
Finding one's roots is hard. But for an adopted mixed race person, it's nigh impossible. "Marble Mountain" follows Kiet Hallam as she is faced with the lifetime question of who she is and why is she here. Half Vietnamese and half African-American, she has little clue as to where her place of origin truly lies. Despite her supportive family, it looks as if Kiet's past won't be revealing itself with ease anytime soon. "Marble Mountain" is a fine story of searching for one's genealogy with many mystery elements, and is an enjoyable read.
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