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Novel without a Name Paperback – June 1, 1996

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (June 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140255109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140255102
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vietnamese novelist Huong, who has been imprisoned for her political beliefs, presents the story of a disillusioned soldier in a book that was banned in her native country.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

These two novelists, both of whom fought for North Vietnam, offer American readers a startlingly different perspective on the war.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 25 customer reviews
The writer did an excellent job making it very personal.
Steven Green
Duong Thu Huong has written one of the classic, most realistic accounts of the Vietnamese experience during what they called "the American War."
John P. Jones III
He sees the change in his country, change in his family, change in his dreams, and most importantly... the change in himself!
Joseph R. Calamia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 79 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book is narrated by Quan, a twenty-eight year-old soldier of the North Vietnamese Army who, after spending ten years in the jungles of central Vietnam, is thoroughly disillusioned by the horrible and absurd realities of war. The narrator's tone is one of disenchantment, of wistful longing for all that has been lost--youth, life, love, family. As also shown in Paradise of the Blind, Duong Thu Huong has a skill for detailed descriptions of everyday objects and scenes, which are often made grotesquely surreal by her minute, harsh, objective observations. For example, in describing the decrepit mental and physical state of Quan's childhood friend Bien, she writes, "He sat in a pile of filth and excrement, surrounded by pools of milky, rancid urine. A torn calendar. An old tin can filled with water." Everything touched upon by the war--the natural environment, the people--is made ugly, thus adding to the war's horror. Even her flowers are drenched in red colors of blood. In such an environment of degradation and death, people struggle to retain the smallest hint human decency. This struggle is movingly portrayed in the episode when Quan spends a night in a field station, the sole personnel of which is a homely girl who heroically goes about burying her dead comrades. Though forced by duty to spend the best years of her life in a bleak environment, she tries to retain some of her youthful feminine idealism by decorating her cave-room with pictures of French singers and a paper flower, and washing and combing her hair to get rid of the stench of human corpses which never goes away. Her futile effort in trying to get Quan to make love to her expresses a tragic desperation.Read more ›
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Eric Armstrong on June 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
Novel Without A Name by Duong Thu Huong is a terrific novel that lets the reader into the head of a Vietnamese soldier fighting for the North Vietnam side during the Vietnam War. A twenty-eight year old man, Quan, is the narrator of Novel Without A Name. Quan's view of life is much different from what it was when he was a naive 18-year-old, enlisting in the army with his childhood friends. Back then, Quan had thought of war as a glorious time; a time when heroes and legends were made. At this point, Quan has begun to see the Vietnam War for what it really was; a brutal massacre needlessly killing his fellow Vietnamese people. Luong, once Quan's childhood friend, and now his commander who's life has become the Communist Party, sends Quan on a mission to find Bien, their childhood friend. The other task that Quan is given is one that Luong does not report to the officials, he asks Quan to go to their home village. Luong wants Quan to do this for a variety of reasons. First, he knows that the war will be going on much longer than was ever intended, and he knows that Quan misses his home. Second, Luong wants Quan to reassure all the families back home that they are doing well, even if this is partially a lie. Quan sets out on his long journey, and unfortunately is met with bad news. The war has driven Bien to insanity. This insanity was caused by the fact that Bien has a life threatening form of malaria, which he got from a mosquito; a very common occurrence during the Vietnam War. The cell that holds Bien was on par with others during the War, but was nonetheless despicable. The crazy man eats, lives, and sleeps in his own waste, and is malnourished.
After seeing Bien, Quan returns home to his village. He finds that it is not only he who has changed during the 10 years that he has been absent.
Read more ›
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mark&Pao on January 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
As an American, I have only read about the Vietnam war from a US perspective. During my visit to Vietnam this year, I went to the Vietnam War Museum in Ho Chim Minh city which provided a Vietnamese perspective on the war. I was extremely moved and so upon returning to Tokyo (where I live) I came across this Novel Without A Name. The author really captured the pain, sorrow and loss of innocence that faced young Vietnamese men during these decades of war. I can't imagine being at war for over a decade (if we include the French war) when you life can be taken-away from you and your loved ones at any moment. Admist all this, the cental character tries to find a reason for being in all that he loves. A real sad book that I would not reccommend unless you have the heart to understand the psyche of this generation of Vietnamese youth. I enjoyed it.....
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By ElkoJohn on September 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a veteran of the American war in Vietnam. I served two tours as a helicopter gunship pilot. I returned in 1971 totally disillusioned with my government, the South Vietnamese government, the mainstream media, and mainstream religion -- all of whom promoted this war as the way to make the world safe for democracy (wasn't that supposed to be WW-I?). I began to do my research about Vietnam to understand how I, a 19-year old college student, could be so deceived and betrayed as to give up my college deferment and volunteer to go to war for the American oligarchy. Dozens of books later, I found two books that were far and away above the rest. The first, Bernard Fall's ''Last Reflections'' is the most comprehensive and truthful account of Vietnam and the colonial powers that tried to occupy and rule that ''domino'' in Southeast Asian. The second, ''Novel Without a Name'' by Duong Thu Huong, was written by a VC soldier who fought the Americans for 10-years. She was one of three survivors of her unit. She told the heart-wrenching story of the American war from the Vietnamese point of view. Her description of combat PTSD on page 152 is the most authentic I have ever read. To quote another author, Major General Smedley Butler, ''War is a Racket.'' Maybe someday the American voters will wake up.
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