But the novel seems cleverly reflective of the post-war mind of protagonist Kien, who has survived horrible attack after horrible attack during the war, and then experiences more horror collecting dead bodies during the years directly afterwards. Now he's writing his experiences down to exorcise his demons. Living somewhere between a dream world and reality, on the knife-edge between the two. The introduction says that Bao Ninh himself was born in Hanoi in and served with the Glorious 27th Youth Brigade. Of the who served with the brigade in , he was one of 10 who survived. The novel is thus at least partly autobiographical, and indeed the Communist Party of Vietnam banned the book.
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By Bao Ninh. Most Americans think of the Vietnam War as a political and moral failure that left a young generation scarred, shellshocked and stripped of its illusions. From Bao Ninh's novel, it is clear that the North Vietnamese experience was largely the same.
The author, himself a veteran, traces the war-haunted life of Kien, a former infantryman turned writer, as he struggles to overcome his terrifying memories of combat and salvage the wreck that his life has become. It is not easy: Kien's fallen comrades return as ghosts in alcohol-fueled visions; his lover has also been irrevocably changed by the war; his ability to write, once his path to salvation, has begun to sputter. Instead it focuses on Kien's personal ordeal.
Indeed, the novel is best read as a diarylike account of post-traumatic stress. As fiction, however, the book has many weak spots, most notably its last-minute attempt to switch the reader's attention to another main character. The prose, translated by Phan Thanh Hao and edited by Frank Palmos, is often overwrought, but there are scenes of great emotional power.
In addition, the author works hard to make certain that Kien represents a whole generation of North Vietnamese. Once again the reader learns that war is hell -- even when your side is supposedly the winner.
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The Sorrow Of War: A Novel of North Vietnam
Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? A novel of the Vietnam War is written from the perspective of the North Vietnamese, profiles human characters who are wrenched by the same pain and fear as their enemies, and follows the hero's ten-year separation from his loved ones. Read more Read less. Amazon International Store International products have separate terms, are sold from abroad and may differ from local products, including fit, age ratings, and language of product, labeling or instructions.
IN SHORT: FICTION
Look Inside. The daring and controversial novel that took the world by storm—a story of politics, selfhood, survival, and war. Kien, a lone survivor from the Glorious 27th Youth brigade of the Vietcong, revisits the haunting sites of battles and relives a parade of horrors, as he grapples with his ghosts, his alcoholism and attempts to arrange his life in writing. Of the five hundred men who went to war with the brigade in , he is one of only ten who survived.
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