One of the most important things to me when I read a new book is the atmosphere. I want to feel pulled in. I want to feel like I'm really there in the world with the characters. This book gave me that in spades.
Never in my life have I read such a stunning portrayal of Vietnam. The countryside, the cities, the people, the culture, everything was so exquisitely portrayed in this novel that I found myself gasping at some of the descriptions.
Khana Ha's version of 1980's and 1960's Vietnam was a place that was both naturally beautiful and mercilessly gritty. At one moment there would be a description of the jungle on a quiet night and the next, an American soldier getting decapitated by the local militia—and both descriptions would be masterful in opposite ways.
This novel is the kind of book that only comes around every once in a long while and the kind that you find yourself thinking about for years to come.
Mrs. Rossi, Nicola Rossi, Chi Lan and Giang Le are all fascinating characters that kept me wanting to turn every page in order to learn more about them.
Giang Le's quiet, heartbreaking recollections about his youth and his struggles during the war broke my heart. I found him so easy to sympathize with and feel for. What terrible things he saw at such a young age. To have to go through that is something that I could never understand.
Mrs. Rossi's desperate search for her son's remains tugged on my heart strings as well. A mother's love for her son never dies, and watching her journey throughout the novel was mesmerizing.
A definite must read for all book lovers! I will be recommending this book to some of my close friends and coworkers. I give it 5 solid gold stars!
Release Date: March 31st, 2019
"I live in a coastal town in the deep south of the Mekong Delta. During the war this was IV Corps, which saw many savage fights. Although the battles might have long been forgotten, some places cannot forget."
Thus begins the harrowing yet poignant story of a North Vietnamese communist defector who spends ten years in a far-flung reform prison after the war, and now, in 1987, a free man again, finds work as caretaker at a roadside inn in the U Minh region. One day new guests arrive at the inn: an elderly American woman and her daughter, an eighteen-year-old Vietnamese girl adopted at the age of five from an orphanage in the Mekong Delta before the war ended. Catherine Rossi has come to this region to find the remains of her son, a lieutenant who went missing-in-action during the war.
Mrs. Rossi's Dream tells the stories of two men in time parallel: Giang, the thirty-nine-year-old war veteran; Nicola Rossi, a deceased lieutenant in the United States Army, the voice of a spirit. From the haunting ugliness of the Vietnam War, the stories of these two men shout, cry, and whisper to us the voices of love and loneliness, barbarity and longing, lived and felt by a multitude of people from all walks of life: the tender adolescent vulnerability of a girl toward a man who, as a drifter and a war-hardened man, draws beautifully in his spare time; the test of love and faith endured by a mother whose dogged patience even baffles the local hired hand who thinks the poor old lady must have gone out of her mind, and whose determination drives her into the spooky forest, rain or shine, until one day she claims she has sensed an otherworldly presence in there with her. In the end she wishes to see, just once, a river the local Vietnamese call "The River of White Water Lilies," the very river her son saw, now that all her hopes to find his remains die out.
Just then something happens. She finds out where he has lain buried for twenty years and how he was killed.
2016 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction (Sarabande Books)2016 Many Voices Project (New Rivers Press)2016 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction (Prairie Schooner)2015 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Award (Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society)A short story adapted from the book won the 2013 Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction (The Greensboro Review)
About the author:
Award winning author, Khanh Ha is the author of Flesh (Black Heron Press) and The Demon Who Peddled Longing (Underground Voices). He is a seven-time Pushcart nominee, a Best Indie Lit New England nominee, twice a finalist of The William Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Award, and the recipient of Sand Hills Prize for Best Fiction, and Greensboro Review’s Robert Watson Literary Prize in fiction. The Demon Who Peddled Longing was honored by Shelf Unbound as a Notable Indie Book. Ha graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
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