With natural, immediately engaging prose, Nguyen tells 8 very different stories of Vietnamese characters, striving to find their places in the world. Leaving one culture for another finds these people often straddling two ways of life, never without memory of the past. Two of the stories are actually set in Viet Nam with those who either chose to go there or to remain in their homeland. The ghost of the son/brother of a mother and daughter in the U.S. visits for the final closure and, in another tale, a family is hounded to contribute money to continued warfare in the homeland. Universal to the refugee experience, this collection represents all who have come to America for better lives. Capping the stories off are two essays by Nguyen, a bonus from this wise and witty observer.
— From Jane
Published in hardcover to astounding acclaim, The Refugees
is the remarkable debut collection of short stories by Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Sympathizer
. In these powerful stories, written over a period of twenty years and set in both Vietnam and America, Nguyen paints a vivid portrait of the experiences of people leading lives between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth.
With the same incisiveness as in The Sympathizer
, in The Refugees
Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to the hopes and expectations of people making life-changing decisions to leave one country for another, and the rifts in identity, loyalties, romantic relationships, and family that accompany relocation. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of migration.
The second work of fiction by a major new voice in American letters, The Refugees
is a beautifully written and sharply observed book about the aspirations of those who leave one country for another, and the relationships and desires for self-fulfillment that define our lives.