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The Boat [Kindle Edition]

Nam Le
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The seven stories in Nam Le's masterful collection The Boat take us across the globe, from the slums of Colombia to Iowa City; from the streets of Tehran to a foundering vessel in the South China Sea. They guide us to the heart of what it means to be human — and herald the arrival of a remarkable new writer.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. From a Colombian slum to the streets of Tehran, seven characters in seven stories struggle with very particular Swords of Damocles in Pushcart Prize winner Le's accomplished debut. In Halflead Bay, an Australian mother begins an inevitable submission to multiple sclerosis as her teenage son prepares for the biggest soccer game of his life. The narrator of Meeting Elise, a successful but ailing artist in Manhattan, mourns his dead lover as he anticipates meeting his daughter for the first time since she was an infant. The opening Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice features a Vietnamese character named Nam who is struggling to complete his Iowa Writer's Workshop master's as his father comes for a tense visit, the first since an earlier estrangement shattered the family. The story's ironies—You could totally exploit the Vietnamese thing, says a fellow student to Nam—are masterfully controlled by Le, and reverberate through the rest of this peripatetic collection. Taken together, the stories cover a vast geographic territory (Le was born in Vietnam and immigrated to Australia) and are filled with exquisitely painful and raw moments of revelation, captured in an economical style as deft as it is sure. (May)
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“Nam Le's lyricism and emotional urgency lend his portraits enormous visceral power. . . . A remarkable collection.” —The New York Times“Nam Le is extraordinary, a writer who must - who will - be heard. . . .The Boat's vision and its power are timeless.” —Mary Gaitskill“Astounding. . . . A refreshingly diverse and panoramic debut.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review“Extraordinarily accomplished and sophisticated. . . . Moving and unforgettable.” —San Francisco Chronicle“Wonderful stories that snarl and pant across our crazed world . . . . Nam Le is a heartbreaker, not easily forgotten.” —Junot Díaz“Lyrical . . . Powerful and assured. . . . [Le's] kaleidoscopic world view is on display throughout the stories, which seamlessly blend cultural traditions, accents and landscapes that run from lush to barren.” —The Miami Herald“Stunning. . . .These stories are so beautifully written and cross emotional barriers of time and place with such clear vision and strong command of language we can only wonder with awe what Nam Le will offer us next.” —The Oregonian“A collection that takes the reader across the globe. From Iowa to Colombia to Australia and Iran, the characters in Le’s stories each shape the world around them. In each story, the protagonists create a new atmosphere. . . .While Le is a writer who seems to be interested in the issues of the world, he is also a writer interested in the young. . . . Le does not downplay the lives of his children as fiction often does when portraying younger characters but presents them with a seriousness and intelligence that is refreshing. . . . The Boat is an impressive debut from a writer with a lot more to give. A writer to be remembered.”—Marion Frisby, The Denver Post“Powerful . . . Lyrical . . . Devastating . . ....

Product Details

  • File Size: 296 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1847671616
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (May 13, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0018ZDAUS
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,924 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
THE BOAT is an engaging and free-wheeling collection of seven short stories by first-timer Nam Le, organized in a cleverly self-referential package. In the pivotal first story, "Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice" (a title drawn from William Faulkner's Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1950), a young Vietnamese American lawyer-turned-aspiring author named Nam is visited by his father, just arrived from Australia. Nam has settled in Iowa to attend the renowned Iowa Writer's Workshop.

As he struggles to meet its creative demands and beat his own writer's block, a friend encourages Nam simply to write about Vietnam, since "ethnic literature's hot." Another friend differs: "It's a license to bore. The characters are always flat, generic." It's that last friend who tosses out as an aside, "You could totally exploit the Vietnamese thing. But instead, you choose to write about lesbian vampires and Colombian assassins, and Hiroshima orphans - and New York painters with hemorrhoids." And thus is THE BOAT.

The second story follows the perilous life of Juan Pablo Merendez, an adolescent assassin in Medillin, Colombia as he is called to task by his boss for failing to carry out an execution. Next comes "Meeting Elise," the story of an aging, hemorrhoid-afflicted painter seeking desperately to make amends with his estranged (and engaged) daughter as she makes her Carnegie Hall debut as a concert cellist. Another story, titled simpy "Hiroshima," traces the life of a young Japanese girl moved to the safety of the nearby countryside in the days immediately preceding the dropping of the atomic bomb.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps this is the year of short stories. In April Jhumpa Lahiri's "Unaccustomed Earth" was published to the delight of lovers of short stories. And now this dazzling debut, a collection of seven short stories titled "The Boat", by Nam Le. Even though he is only 29 years old, he writes with the wisdom of a very old and experienced writer. The title story is very long, and reads like a novella.

Unlike Lahiri's stories which are mostly about the lives and experiences of immigrants from India in the United States of America, Mr. Le's stories take place around the world, in Vietnam , Iran, United States, Australia, in the slums of Columbia in South America, and in Iowa, and in cities like Manhattan. The first story with a very long and curious title of "Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice", has elements of autobiography, because its protagonist, a man named Nam who, like the author, was born in Vietnam and raised in Australia. And like the author, he is a lawyer who goes to Iowa to take a course in writing. His father suddenly decides to visit him, and a reader can feel the uncomfortable tension between the father and the son. I felt that the father was quite abusive towards his son, lashing him mercilessly, when the writer was a boy.

Of all the stories, I liked "Meeting Elise", about an old painter named Henry Luff, who is dying from terminal cancer, and who decides to meet his estranged daughter, Elise, in a fancy restaurant at the Lincoln Center in Manhattan. It is a very moving story.

Mr. Nam Le's prose is elegant, smooth, and almost lyrical. The sentences shine because of their clarity: "The truth was, he'd come at the worst possible time.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Curiously unemotional November 27, 2008
Nam Le has created a series of curiously bloodless characters. His writing is technically adept, but somehow in this collection he has failed to reach the hearts of the people he is writing about. The story that worked best for me was the first one in the collection, which is also the one that I suspect is closest to Nam Le's life - the story about the Vietnamese father and his son. The others I found unconvincing - cleverly written, but emotionally flat.

In my opinion Nam Le has a lot of writing talent, but may not yet have reached his full potential.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars impressive debut May 19, 2008
although i think "halflead bay" was suppose to be the climactic piece in the collection, my favorite was "hiroshima." i don't know, it might have been the constant repetitions of the japanese slogan ("one hundred million deaths with honor!") that haunted me, especially coming from the narrator a young child but after i finished that story i got chills.

i was afraid he was going to be lahiri-esque but was pleasantly surprised to find that his prose was lyrical, choppy and abstract; very real, in other words. and he's young, only 29 i think.

the biggest triumph of the book is how seamlessly he writes about other people (besides asians) and i think this is really shocking for readers, for critics especially -- that a non-white writer can do that. le's "the boat" succeeds in all the ways that chang rae lee's "aloft" failed. lahiri, lee they are still trapped in the ethnic dialogue, and i don't blame's of their generation. but i'm relieved, freakin celebrating the fact that the immigrant experience, while valuable and eye-opening is being treated with a critical eye now, one that appraises it more honestly especially in comparison to other, more probing questions that we all, immigrant or not, share.

structurally speaking, i liked the fact that his writing was very disparate, wave-like almost. he's a very visual writer, that said, in the last two stories (tehran calling and the boat), i didn't know what was going on sometimes...which might have been the point.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant writing
well conceived group of short stories,all exhibiting great construction,exquisite use of language and intrigue.Treat yourself to an inspiring read. Read more
Published 9 months ago by G Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime. Exquisite. A book to own and keep and cherish.
This is one of those rare books that make you draw your breath in by the sheer power and beauty of the writing. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Hayley T.D.
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
Although this book is well written I thought I was getting someting different. Not the authors fault. I could not do the voilence in the stories that I read. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Cwiedwyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories of Immigration, Migration and Emmigration
Nam Le's stories are about people from all over the world who hope to live somewhere else and the struggle to get there. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Lynn Ellingwood
2.0 out of 5 stars A little unauthentic
I was looking forward to reading this book because I thought Nam Le would have a fresh new writing style to reflect a new age of Australian authors. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Joy Russell
4.0 out of 5 stars Daring Shapeshifting
The scope of this writing is tremendously impressive. David Mitchell notwithstanding, there aren't many modern writers who can globetrot as believably as Nam Le. Read more
Published 22 months ago by S. Idell
3.0 out of 5 stars Gratuitously written
Just finished the book for my class. While I loved the concept of the book, ie its structure and culmination in "the boat" story, I found the prose gratuitous and almost hard to... Read more
Published on December 2, 2012 by puppydog666
1.0 out of 5 stars Why so expensive?
I really want to buy this book, but it is a ridiculous price for a kindle edition, unknown author and published 4 years ago. If it was cheaper a few people might buy it.
Published on November 27, 2012 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars The Boat
The Boat I found to be a little depressing. I got confused sometimes in the style of Nam Le's writing.
Published on October 10, 2012 by Veronica M. Fraatz
5.0 out of 5 stars `The storm came on quickly.'
This collection of short stories is Nam Le's first book. It's a wonderful collection of seven stories, set in different cultures, contexts and countries. Read more
Published on April 14, 2011 by Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Apr 25, 2012 by J. Jewell |  See all 2 posts
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