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Family of Fallen Leaves: Stories of Agent Orange by Vietnamese Writers Paperback – October 1, 2010
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Sad isn't even the half of it, when it comes to these lovingly crafted, expertly translated, exquisite stories of pain, loss and heartache. When you read Family of Fallen Leaves, you feel it in the pit of your stomach - no small achievement for any type of literature, much less fiction translated from a language where so much is implied, contextual and makes use of ritual phrases and intricate word play.(Asia Times )
This unique and remarkable book more than deserves the widest nationwide reading and strong recognition. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Air Force extensively sprayed the enemy's jungle and rural countryside with a chemical defoliant known as Agent Orange to deprive the Vietcong of forest cover. However, Agent Orange was then well-known to be heavily contaminated with dioxin, the most potent known human carcinogen. The pain of agonizing diseases, cancers, and deaths in small towns and villages is told in their own words, by victims or their family members, in heart moving, yet non-accusatory detachment against the U.S. chemical warfare.(Samuel S. Epstein M.D., Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition and Professor Emeritus University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health)
The editors have included some of the best-known contemporary authors in Vietnam in this intelligently selected and well-translated collection of essays concerning the inevitable suffering caused by Agent Orange. Their combined voices allow us to share some of the pain and human consequences that resulted from a war against the environment itself, and inexorably, agonizingly, remind us of our connection to, and responsibility for, that damage. It is only through the intimacy of imaginative literature that one can begin to experience the depth of that destruction and the wreckage of individual lives.(Wayne Karlin author of Wandering Souls: Journeys with the Dead and the Living in Viet Nam)
Military, literary and social issues collections alike will find this packed with experiences, insights, and social commentary key to understanding the Vietnamese experience, and will find this offers a powerful, literary collection.(Midwest Book Review)
In this long-awaited collection of twelve translated short stories and an essay on Agent Orange by Vietnamese writers, the hefty environmental and physical consequences of the Vietnam War are for the first time exposed through literature, evoking the near-impossibility of healing after a war that destroyed nations, spirits, morals and many more . . . Intertwining histories and folklores with family memories and narratives, these stories share the burden and responsibility of portraying an intergenerational aspect of dioxin contamination, evoking both a borderless empathy and difficult moral choices for a quiet reconciliation.(Cerise Press)
About the Author
Charles Waugh is an assistant professor of English at Utah State University. He has lived in Vietnam several times over the last twelve years and his stories and essays about those experiences have appeared in the "Sycamore Review," "Flyway," "Pilgrimage," the "Wisconsin Review," "Proteus," and "ISLE." Nguyen Lien, who writes under the pen name Huy Lien, is a professor emeritus of literature at Vietnam National University and has translated such works as "The Glass Menagerie" and "The Prince of Tides" into Vietnamese. Waugh and Lien received a Rockefeller Fellowship to edit and translate the narratives in this anthology.
Top Customer Reviews
This is an important book, because now it is not just some of the people in Vietnam who suffer with neurological damage, whose children suffer severe birth defects, high cancer rates and inexplicable illnesses, but also soldiers who fought for the United States in Vietnam, families of soldiers who lived on army bases where chemicals were stored or discarded, people who lived in towns where dioxin was a bi-product of chemical and burning processes at the local factories, people whose dirt roads were sprayed with chemical waste product to keep dust levels low,
There are books about dioxin pollution, some quite scientific, about its chemical make-up and whether it is or is not dangerous to humans in high amounts, and what is considered a high amount. There is a book about how to start information groups and take action if one's town becomes designated as polluted, and its people contaminated.
After a long search, this was the ONLY book I found in 2012 that describes what it means to have dioxin poisoning and how it effects the unborn for at least three generations. It is painful to read about the suffering of the Vietnamese victims but the stories are so beautifully told and often the victim's courage is so great, once started one reads to the end. And at the end, reading the local and national news, one realizes as dangerous levels of contamination are found in more and more of our food, rivers, lakes and neighborhoods, this book may be a warning to everyone of our own future.