by Viet Thanh Nguyen

A book review — Another way of traveling

I try to read at least 1 book about the countries that I’m planning to visit, am visiting, or have visited.

My trip to Vietnam was not an exception. More than that I was able to buy some of them there. In English, I’m still not able to read in Vietnamese. One day maybe.

Being from a western country I ended up influenced by all the Hollywood movies about Vietnam.

Thankfully, a couple of years ago I started to think a bit more, and always try to see the story from the “other side”. In this case, this means, that I searched for some other information. Especially if it were movies, books or documentaries focused on seeing it from the Vietnamese eyes.

I tried to look into Vietnam as more than a stage for a part of American history.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy to find.

But the 2 weeks that I spent in Vietnam were a way to learn a few things, and most of all to know where to look for more.

This book was one of those, it gave me another view. It’s a collection of short stories, that focuses on a series of refugees, and their experience in America.

Although all of them come from Vietnam, they have different stories. And are able to show us, that even coming from the same place and with a similar experience, the history of each one of the families is different.

The focus is not on the Vietnam war or the way that they ended up moving to America, although it’s referenced. But on the day-to-day life that each of these families lives while in America. The impact that the war had on them, the journey to the US, or even the impact of losing someone in it. But also, the cultural differences and the way of each one of them have to adapt their life and experience to a different country and culture.

It’s a book about Vietnamese refugees, that can be read as stories about the human experience.

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