- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Hyperion; 1st edition (April 21, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786864184
- ISBN-13: 978-0786864188
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,500,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dragon Hunt Hardcover – April 21, 1999
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Over the years, writers such as Tim O'Brien and Michael Herr have written about the Vietnam War and its aftermath from an American soldier's perspective; Robert Olen Butler, on the other hand, performed a feat of cultural ventriloquism in A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, describing the country, the conflict, and its aftermath from a (mostly civilian) Vietnamese point of view. There's something to be said for the genuine article, however, and in The Dragon Hunt, Tran Vu writes of diaspora, exile, and loss with the wisdom only experience can give. Born in Saigon in 1962, Vu fled his country 16 years later in a small, overcrowded boat that eventually wrecked on a coral reef. For 10 days he survived in the water, and this horrific experience is at the center of the first of five stories, "The Coral Reef."
Arms flailed like tentacles through the portholes, trying to get a grip on the hull. People were jumping overboard. Some were struggling through the wreckage to get to the sealed cabins, where we could hear the screams of the trapped women and children. By some instinct, I jumped into the sea.From the clean, spare terror of shipwreck, Vu moves to a more claustrophobic (and, unfortunately, more purple) rendering of domestic horror in "Gunboat on the Yangtze," a dark and violent tale of madness and incest. These two stories stake out opposite extremes on the spectrum of Vu's writing style. The other three fall somewhere in between, but even the least among them is infused with a fierce intelligence and remarkable insight into the complex connections between memory, loss, and desire. In The Dragon Hunt, Vietnam, at last, speaks for itself. --Alix Wilber
From Publishers Weekly
The Vietnam Tran Vu portrays in the five unapologetically frank stories of this collection (his first to be translated into English) is a desperate, deeply troubled place. Himself an emigrant, Tran Vu puts his characters through trials as harrowing as his have been. Each of the five stories taps a different portion of the emigrant experience, from exile in France to the return to war-torn cities. In "The Coral Reef" hundreds of Chinese-Vietnamese escaping the failed socialism of the postwar era are shipwrecked and struggle to survive, endangered by dwindling water supplies and circling sharks. Elder Sister, the narrator of "Gunboat on the Yangtze," endures her scarred brother's frantic attempts to connect to life through rape and a sexual relationship. The title story is a harrowing fable of postwar Vietnam combining lyrical prose and gory images to create a surreal emotional landscape. The spareness of Tran Vu's prose, which McPherson and Duong translate ably, tends to give short shrift to narrative tension. The complexities of Vietnamese society?the rivalries between the North and South, ethnic Chinese and ethnic Vietnamese, the haves and the have-nots?are, however, handled with sensitivity and insight by the tough survivalist characters. (Mar.) FYI: An adaptation of "The Coral Reef" first appeared in Granta.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Could this be true? It is ... in the mind of the author. This is to my knowledge the best description of what could go through the minds of these refugees who had suffered so much throughout the war and were forced to escape communist Vietnam under frightening circumstances.