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Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam Paperback – February 7, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the six years since Vietnam's cultural "renovation" or Doi Moi, readers around the world have finally gotten access to many of the country's most gifted and prominent authors. Night, Again collects a dozen of these often censored and sometimes imprisoned writers, such as the extraordinary Bao Ninh (The Sorrows of War), whose "A Marker on the Side of the Boat" alone makes this collection worth reading. Other highlights include work by Nguyen Huy Thiep, Duong Thu Huong, and Nguyen Minh Chau, a former colonel in the North Vietnamese Army who died from his exposure to chemical defoliants. Night, Again is not a collection of pretty stories with happy endings, but one that reflects the hardships and unfairness of life in general, and of devastated Vietnam in particular. One is always aware of how different this culture is, but lyrical language and carefully rendered characters make these stories universal. As Linh Dinh states in his introduction: "the soul of any literature lies in its relationship to the vernacular." Night, Again is an interesting cross section of life, love, loss and redemption. Although not as powerful as last year's The Other Side of Heaven: Postwar Fiction by Vietnamese & American Writers (Curbstone Press), this collection can still unite readers from the U.S. and Vietnam after decades of discord.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Where other translations of Vietnamese literature--Bao Ninh's Sorrow of War, Duong Thu Huong's Paradise of the Blind or Novel without a Name, or the American anthology The Other Side of Heavenhave circulated, this short story collection is likely to find readers. (Eight of the collection's 12 stories are published for the first time in English here.) The stories' authors--Nguyen Thi Am, Bao Ninh, Duong Thu Huong, Nguyen Huy Thiep, Le Minh Khue, Do Phuoc Tien, The Giang, Pham Thi Hoaih, Mai Kim Ngoc, Tran Vu, Do Kh, and Nguyen Minh Chau--include major figures in the history of Vietnamese literature as well as newer voices from the generation born during the '60s. Some still live in their homeland; others, including editor Dinh (who also supplies a helpful introduction), live and work in the U.S. or Europe. War is inevitably one motif of these stories, but Doi Moi has allowed at least some writers to consider Bloody Marys and belly dancing as well as bombs and burning flesh in their fiction. Definitely worth considering. Mary Carroll --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; 0002- edition (February 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583227067
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583227060
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #823,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 3, 1998
Format: Paperback
This collection of short stories by Vietnamese writers from within the country as well as abroad contains some original pieces that push the limits of Vietnamese fiction. Some stories, however, express the typical Vietnamese penchant for nostalgia such as Duong Thu Huong's "Reflections of Spring" and Bao Ninh's "A Marker on the Side of the Boat. Other stories are obviously wry social criticisms such as Le Minh Khue's "Scenes from an Alley." I found Tran Vu's story "Gunboat on the Yangtze" most original stylistically and very bold in its deft portrayal of the morally sensitive subject of incestuous love, pain, and guilt. The story is complex and forces one to question one's own morality when reading the sensuous passages that one is afraid to admit are stimulating. I also liked Do Kh.'s story "The Pre-War Atmosphere" with it's fresh pairing of a Vietnamese character, the husband, with a Lebanese one, the wife in a contemporary setting that is outside of Vietnam, Orange County in this case. In its closing lines the story offers, with a hint of self-critical irony, a criticism of the tiresome Vietnamese idealistic longing for the past: "Enough of soaking in that pre-war atmosphere. Let's not abuse it. Think about the past enough to amuse yourself, but don't retch over it. Home or exile, that sour vomit smell can't be made fragrant with mood music."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Richard K. Weems on September 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
In this collection from Seven Stories Press, Linh Dinh has collected together twelve works of fiction by Vietnamese writers. Some of these works are quite sharp, like Nguyen Thi Am's "Sleeping on Earth," a story that by itself is worth the sticker price of this book. Other stories, like The Giang's "A stagnant Water Place," are inventive, but ultimately unfulfilling.

But I do applaud Linh Dinh for the scope of this collection--in this, he puts together works from both literary and popular authors. Though Vietnam is clearly a place torn in its artistic identity (as we learn in the introduction, one of Vietnam's most famous writers, Duong Thu Huong, is banned), this collection is a good intro to let you learn of some names that hopefully will be a little more available in English in the near future (and they are--check Amazon for Nguyen Huy Thiep, Thu Huong Duong and others). Linh Dinh set out to expose a new landscape in literature, and his collection certainly does that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kristopher Kincaid on February 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have yet to read a short story anthology that doesnt have its forgettable entries but the standouts here make "Night, Again" a truly great read. Le Minh Khue's "Scenes From an Alley" is a short, matter-of-fact account of extreme poverty and child abuse that builds to a haunting finale and Nguyan Huy Thiep's miniature epic family drama "Without a King" manages to be both sprawling and finely detailed and at the same time clock in at under twenty pages. Thiep is a talented writer who deserves major attention and it's unfortunate that "The General Retires and Other Stories," an anthology of his shorter works translated into English, is currently out of print and difficult to locate. As mentioned in other reviews Tran Vu's erotically-charged incest story "Gunboat on the Yangtze" is a particular standout. Overall, well worth the time for anyone looking for a different perspective.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Reader in Tokyo on March 8, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book was published in 1996. The second edition, published in 2006, added one work each by Tran Ngoc Tuan and Duc Ban and was the version I read. It contained 14 short stories by as many authors. The pieces were published in Vietnamese between 1987 and roughly 2000; eight appeared here for the first time in English. The great majority were from the 1990s.

The oldest author was Nguyen Minh Chau (1930-89), who was called the earliest champion of Doi Moi (Renovation) in the country's literature. The youngest was Do Phuoc Tien (1966-).

The anthology introduced works by some of the foremost champions of Doi Moi literature or debunkers of socialist utopias (Nguyen Minh Chau, Duong Thu Huong, Le Minh Khue) as well as the one called the most influential for his use of language (Nguyen Huy Thiep) and one of the most popular (Bao Ninh). Others were from both the north and south, including six who live abroad, in Europe or the United States.

A number of the stories could be described as somber realism. They showed the effects of poverty and materialism that made people behave badly -- either straightforwardly, as in the pieces by Nguyen Thi Am and The Giang, or satirically, in the one by Le Minh Khue. One by Duong Thu Huong showed a civil servant looking back over his life and regretting choices made. Others showed the dislocation of war, as in the story by Bao Ninh set during wartime that referenced a Vietnamese folktale, and one by Nguyen Minh Chau that showed a character suffering from a wartime injury, which was probably based on his own life.

Other authors (Do Khiem, Duc Ban, Pham Thi Hoai, Tran Ngoc Tuan, Do Phuoc Tien) were more interested in cryptic formal experimentation or plumbing their own subjectivity.
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