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 . . ....