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Trang Sen Paperback – April 17, 2012
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About the Author
Sarah-Ann Smith earned a degree in international relations at American University in Washington, and pursued a career with the U.S. diplomatic corps. Her tours of duty took her to Taiwan to study Mandarin Chinese and to the American Consulate in Hong Kong. She also worked at “Foggy Bottom,” the legendary headquarters of the U.S. State Department. Friendships with a number of Asian students piqued Smith’s interest in Southeast Asia; her fascination intensified as they voiced their critiques of U.S. policy at the height of the Vietnam War. Years of professional and personal focus on Asian political and cultural life impelled her to write about it in this, her first novel. Smith’s life after the Foreign Service has focused on writing and teaching. In addition to Trang Sen, she has published numerous essays and op-eds and has taught courses on China and Southeast Asia at universities in Maryland and North and South Carolina. She lives in Spartanburg, S.C.
Top customer reviews
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We were fortunate to have Sarah-Ann Smith at our book club meeting and she was wonderful! She gave us insight into how she developed the story and created the characters. A former U.S. State Department employee, Sarah-Ann knew of similar true stories about the US Diplomats and how they would have their American family while starting a new family in Vietnam - basically leading a double life. The travesty of the impending war and the rush to evacuate the Vietnamese at the last minute also played a big role in the story.
I would highly recommend this book. The story is heart-wrenching and comes with some unexpected twists. The Vietnam War is one of more tragic wars of our time and yet there aren't many authors that use it as a platform. Sarah-Ann's story was well-written and engaging. You will not be disappointed!
Click here for more information on Sarah-Ann Smith and raving reviews of her debut novel Trang Sen. [...]
TRANG SEN takes us to Vietnam, after the French have given up on trying to change a country that didn't need change, shows us the traditions and the customs of our main characters family, and then allows us to observe the entry of one American blond haired blue eyed kind soldier that was to be the apparently caring introduction of the American entry to aid Vietnam's schism with communist rule, but instead blossomed into the redistribution of land to suit the needs of warfare and all that followed.
This book is a well-written story of insights into the Vietnamese plight, showing chapter by chapter the gradual influx of more and more troops and the changes that created in the land and in the dissolution of family structure. Smith draws her characters well and ultimately returns our main character to the place we first meet her - years after the conflict when she is living in the USA as a war bride - and it is through her eyes that we reexamine the tragedy that continues to fester in the hearts of all those who were involved in that war. Her graceful simple writing style shows sensitivity to the essence of the Vietnamese people. She offers a lot to absorb while she spins her tale of family, sibling love, coming of age, and bravery in the face of many varied forms of danger. Grady Harp, April13