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Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey Hardcover – January 25, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

--Selected by Time Entertainment as one of their "Top 10 Graphic Memoirs of All Time"

--Awarded the
Society of Illustrators' Gold Medal in Sequential Art

--Awarded 
the New York Foundation for the Arts' Fellowship in Nonfiction Literature

--Selected by 
School Library Journal and Library Journal as one of their "Best Books of 2011"

--Nominated for the
2012 Eisner Award's "Best Reality Based Work" category


"A terrific and amazing memoir." --Miami Herald

"Beyond storytelling, Tran is an artist truly gifted in his medium."  --The Washington Post

"VIETNAMERICA is an utterly remarkable piece of American literature... this memoir resonate[s] as literature rarely does."  --Racebending

"... Atmospheric and evocative, sometimes kaleidoscopic to the point of psychedelia in its construction and 
formal invention."
--Warren Ellis

From the Author

Having been entertained, educated, and enriched by comics since I was a kid, I really wanted to tell a story that respects and takes advantage of the medium's unique narrative, structural, and formal potential. It's something I think can be especially pushed when you're the writer and illustrator through every facet: juxtaposition of dialog and images, shifting art styles, panel rhythm, page compositions, color, etc. The fact that I was able to do so with a project so deeply personal--preserving my family's journey of sacrifices and triumphs--is a dream come true.
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Product Details

  • Series: Vietnamerica
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; First Edition edition (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345508726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345508720
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wanted to like Vietnamerica more than I did. Tran has an engaging art style, even in the black and white of the advance copy, and his family story is compelling. While all the pieces are there the story fails to come together in an effortless manner. Vietnamerica is more of a steady push than a heady sweep. It's easy to lose track of the narrative in the back and forth pace of the story, making it feel more forced than the best works of this genre. All the standard elements are here, the complicated father, the unappreciative son, the underlying theme that they can never understand each other until they do. Certainly the story of Vietnamese emigration is underserved in graphic form. For me, the emotional connection to Tran's family didn't take hold. I was interested in what happened but not mesmerized by it. I don't know if this was because of the slightly disjointed nature of the telling or if it was that Tran himself didn't have much interest in the tale until the end. There is a lot to recommend Vietnamerica, but it doesn't rise above it's format.
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Format: Hardcover
There were two major factors that sparked my interest in Vietnamerica. One is a fascination with how well memoirs can work in graphic format. The other, as a grandson of immigrants, is a lifelong interest in the American immigrant experience -- for the immigrants themselves and for their descendents. GB Tran exceeded my expectations with this moving examination of his family's story. He does a masterful job using words and images to illuminate character and setting, as only the best graphic memoirs do. It is fascinating how the very specific experience of this family fits in and enriches the overall American immigrant experience. (By the way, my comments are based on reading the color version of Vietnamerica. I hope those whose reviews were based on the black and white advanced copy take the time to experience this piece in color. Tran uses color subtly but very effectively.) I highly recommend Vietnamerica; I know I will accompany the Trans on their journey many more times.
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Format: Hardcover
I do like some graphic novels, Satrapi's Persepolis, and Speigelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale for example. However, for some reason, I have problems focusing on those GNs with many, many details on a page. It's what I call "too busy" for me. This is just me and I wish it were different, but...

I'm certain that this is a beautiful story about a 1st generation American learning the intricacies of what makes a family history important, and the intimacies not usually spoken of in America, leading him to a better understanding of his immigrant parents and their tremendous struggles. However, this telling simply isn't in the style that attracts and holds my attention. If you are a true GN enthusiast, I'm certain that you will enjoy Tran's story. If not, and you are interested in learning the experiences of 1st generation Vietnamese-Americans and their families, I suggest Daughters of the River Huong by Uyen Nicole Duong.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really liked the animated approach to such a complex subject. I was a military policeman in Saigon during the war and it was enjoyable to see how the artist/story teller captured so many familiar nuances. The artist does a wonderful job capturing moods and emotions in his characters and in the settings themselves.

If I had a complaint it would be that I got lost from time to time. The point of view transitions and time transitions were sometimes quite abrupt, necessitating looking back a page or two to figure out what was going on.

Nonetheless, I was left with a powerful sense of the ups and downs of this relatively typical family living in and struggling to survive some horrific events.

Highly recommended.

Loren W. Christensen, co-author of On COmbat
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey is a graphic novel by GB Tran about his parents' lives in and escape from Vietnam in the 1970s and their subsequent life as refugees in the United States. GB grows up in America, distant from his parents. They don't tell him much about their lives before coming to the US, and as much of their family is still in Vietnam, he has no way of learning more about them. His father is intimidating and unapproachable and his mother often threatens to leave him, but never does. He hears, so many times, "You will never understand" and it is only after traveling to Vietnam with his parents as a 30-year-old that he realizes just how much he will never know.

I was very intrigued by the premise of this book because the Vietnam War is one of those subjects that you never learn much about in school, but that had a huge and profound impact on the American psyche. I was very interested to learn more about it from the Vietnamese perspective and to do so in graphic novel format was an added bonus.

It was fascinating to trace the paths of one family, see how people's lives intersected and diverged and came together again. Some were in the army, some were rebels and some stayed as disengaged from the conflict as possible. It was interesting, too, to learn more about the French influence compared to the American influence, and how enterprising Vietnamese had to adapt to changes in regime for their survival. The drawings varied from small, austere sketches to two-page wide detailed images. I would have preferred them to be in color, though, as in black and white, they appear very, very dark and sometimes it can be difficult to discern exactly what they are trying to show the reader.
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