If you travel to Vietnam, it is virtually impossible that the country was at war for more than ignore 20 years, and if we look at books in Vietnam, it is just as difficult to escape the impact of the war on most literary efforts. There are many fine novels written about Vietnam, but this selection attempts to present a range of views, allowing you to create a broad perspective on the country and its history before you travel.
“Matterhorn” by Karl Marlantes
Written in 1977 but not published until 2010, after more than thirty years of rejections, this novel is described as an ‘epic’ and the first ‘big’ novel of the Vietnam war. There is no escaping the reality of war in this book, as Second Lieutenant Waino Mellas and Bravo Company are facing their fears of battle and the hardness of the jungle highlands of south-eastern Vietnam.
“The Man from Saigon ‘by Marti Leimbach
works about the Vietnam War are often written from a male perspective, but with this one we meet Susan Gifford which sent to Vietnam to write human interest stories about the war for a women’s magazine. While they can be very naive to start, Gifford soon on the actual conflict, and finds himself in love with Marc, a fellow journalist. But if you think this book is a kind of sentimental romance, then you are wrong – there are few books that I’ve read that if you immerse fully in the horror and fear of war like this. And while there is romance – the complications of relationships Gifford’s, both with Marc, and her Vietnamese photographer, Son, give this novel real emotional depth
“Novel With No Name” by Duong Thu Huong ..
And what about the North Vietnamese soldier? In this novel we share Quan’s story a soldier who has been at war for ten years, only to return to a village much changed in his absence. Written by a woman who is in jail for their political beliefs, the novel captures the disillusionment and loss of innocence Quan’s, gives us a side of the war that is rarely revealed. Here we see the “honor” of the case instead for displacement of civilians, the hunger of villagers and the inevitable breakdown of families and relationships resulting from the ongoing conflict.
“Dragon House” by John Shors
And now to contemporary Vietnam, where two Americans trying to deal with their own past by setting up a center to check Vietnamese street children. On arrival the duo face the corruption and chaos of Ho Chi Minh City, and as readers we are treated to all the sounds and smells that bring to life the streets. But it is the children who will steal your heart in this novel, you are with them as they battle the misery in which they live. This book is a story about love, hope and redemption that a stark reminder of the legacy of past conflicts.
“Daughters of the Huong River ‘by Uyen Nicole Duong
Spread over four generations, this is a book that us far back in the richness of Vietnamese history shall, before leading us through colonization and war, the country we know today. Written by a political refugee who arrived in the United States when she was just sixteen, this novel tells the story of a family of Vietnamese women, and thus reflects the struggle of a nation.
If you visit about Vietnam, you are visiting a country that has a special fascination for those of us from the West – it is impossible to travel through Vietnam without being confronted with the rollers colonization and war played in history. Arm yourself with these novels and you can learn more about the people who run today understand the ways of Vietnam that little bit will be.