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My Viet

Vietnamese American Literature in English, 1962 - Present

Edited by Michele Janette

Publication Year: 2011

Twentieth-century America reduced Vietnam to “’Nam”: the surreal site of a military nightmare. The early twenty-first century has seen the revision of this image to recognize the people and culture of Vietnam itself. Vietnamese Americans, both immigrants and the American children of immigrants, have participated in changing this perception, consistently presenting their side of the story in memoirs published since the 1960s. My Viet is the first anthology to provide a comprehensive overview of these memoirs and the historical picture they offer and to include Vietnamese writing that goes beyond memoir, revealing a new generation of Vietnamese American poetry, fiction, and drama.

The narratives in Part 1, Tales of Witness, treat the major events of the Vietnamese diasapora: Vietnam’s resistance to French colonization, the “Vietnam War,” post-war Vietnamese life, immigration to and life in America, and reconnections with contemporary Vietnam. Part 2, Tales of Imagination, moves beyond the master narratives of war and immigration to survey exciting innovations in the work of Vietnamese American writers. The texts demonstrate the full flowering of Vietnamese American literature in English and are among the best contemporary writings of any category.

My Viet presents a rich, varied, and provocative collection of literary work that explores Vietnam from many Vietnamese points of view, sees America through a specifically Vietnamese American lens, and broadens the scope of Vietnamese American literature to its fullest extent.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

My first debt, of course, is to the authors of these works, whose courage and creativity I admire in equal measure. This volume has benefited enormously from the advice of students who read drafts in classes on Asian..

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pp. ix-xxviii

What sources have shaped your conceptions of Vietnam? When I ask this question to my Midwestern college students, two answers predominate: an uncle or father who fought there but doesn’t talk about it and the movie...

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A Note on Language

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pp. xxix

Vietnamese is a monosyllabic, tonal language, in which the difference between >ba, bà, and bả, for example, produces a difference in meaning from “three” to “grandmother” to “poison or bait.” Until recently, American...

Part One Tales of Witness

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from Fallen Leaves, Nguyễn Thị Thu-Lâm

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pp. 3-42

Nguyễn Thị Thu-Lâm was born in 1940, the fifth child of an upper middle-class family in Biên Hòa, a resort town near Saigon. Her father was an engineer who worked alternately for the colonial..

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from Shallow Graves, Tran Thi Nga and Wendy Wilder Larsen

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pp. 13-19

Born in China in 1927, Tran Thi Nga grew up in French colonial northern Vietnam, learning French but also resenting the French presence. After World War II, when Chinese soldiers arrived to disarm...

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from Twenty Years and Twenty Days, Nguyễn Cao Kỳ

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pp. 20-28

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ was born in 1930 in Sơn Táy, in northern Vietnam. He entered the South Vietnamese Air Force in 1954, rising to the rank of Air Marshal/General. In 1965 he became prime minister of South Vietnam. In the 1967 presidential election, Kỳ was elected...

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from A Thousand Tears Falling, Yung Krall

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pp. 29-35

Yung Krall was born Đặng Mỹ Dung in 1946 near Cần Thơ. Her father was a member of the Liberation Movement against the French and spent many years of Dung’s childhood imprisoned on Con Son Island. After World War II, he continued to be involved in revolutionary...

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from A Vietcong Memoir, Truong Nhu Tang with David Chanoff and Doan Van Toai

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pp. 36-40

Truong Nhu Tang grew up in Saigon, one of six sons in a wealthy family. He was educated in French schools where he was taught to take pride in “nos ancestres les Galois” (our ancestors the Gauls) while remaining “profoundly ignorant” about his own country. Coming....

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“Electioneering: Vietnamese Style,” Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai / Le Van Hoanh

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pp. 41-47

Nguyen Thi Tuyet Mai was born in Hanoi in 1931 to a Mandarin family. She joined the Việt Minh resistance to French colonial rule in the 1940s and then studied abroad in the United States in the 1950s. She returned to Vietnam to raise her family, do voluntary social...

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from No Passenger on the River, Tran Van Dinh

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pp. 48-60

Tran Van Dinh was born in Huế in 1923. He fought against the French colonial regime and the Japanese occupation forces in Vietnam. A journalist and diplomat, he lived in India and Burma as well as Vietnam and the United States. In 1964 he became the Washington...

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from Our Endless War: Inside Vietnam, Trần Văn Đôn

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pp. 61-65

Trần Văn Đôn was born in 1917 in Bordeaux, France, where his father was training as a medical doctor. Although Đôn was therefore a citizen of France, his emotional loyalty remained with his ancestral land. After spending his childhood in Vietnam, Đôn returned to...

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from In the Jaws of History, Bùi Điệm with David Chanoff

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pp. 66-72

Bùi Điệm was born in 1923 in Hanoi. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all achieved mandarin-scholar status under the Confucian system. Bùi Kỷ, Điệm’s father, published several volumes of poetry as well as collaborating with his own brother, Trần Trọng...

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from When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, Le Ly Hayslip with Jay Wurtz

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pp. 73-94

Phùng Thị Lê Lý was born in 1949, in Ky La, a small village near Đà Nẵng. At the age of fifteen she was a hero of the Việt Cộng but suffered a quick fall in fortunes, first arrested and tortured by the...

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from The Sacred Willow, Duong Van Mai Elliott

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pp. 126-136

Duong Van Mai was born in 1941 in Nam Định Province. During the turbulent 1940s and 1950s, her father held various positions in the French colonial government, moving the family frequently....

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from At Home in America, Nguyen Van Vu with Bob Pittman

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pp. 106-112

Nguyen Van Vu was born in Bắc Ninh, near Hanoi, in 1932, son of a well-to-do shoe manufacturer and landowner. After graduating from Đà Lạt Military Academy, he joined the South Vietnamese army. He worked as a psychological warfare officer in the 1950s. He was...

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from South Wind Changing, Jade Ngọc Quang Huỳnh

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pp. 113-119

Jade Ngọc Quang Huỳnh was born in 1957, one of seventeen children of a prosperous farming family. He grew up in An Tan, a small village on the Mekong River in the southern delta of Vietnam. Like many...

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from The Unwanted, Kien Nguyen

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pp. 120-126

Kien Nguyen was born in 1967 in Nha Trang, to a Vietnamese mother from a wealthy family and a white American father working as a civil engineer in Saigon. In 1975 Kien, his brother Jimmy (also...

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“The Stories They Carried,” Andrew Lam

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pp. 127-132

Andrew Lam, born in Đà Lạt in 1964, was the son of a general in the South Vietnamese Army. He left Vietnam in April 1975, spending time in refugee camps in Guam and California before settling in...

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from Catfish and Mandala, Andrew X. Pham

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pp. 133-138

Andrew Pham was born in Saigon in 1967. In 1975 his family attempted to flee communist Vietnam but was caught. His father was sent to a prison and labor camp, and the rest of the family...

Part Two Tales of Imagination

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from Beyond the East Wind, Duong Van Quyen and Jewell Reinhart Coburn

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pp. 141-148

Duong Van Quyen first came to the United States to earn her education degree at Southern Illinois University. She then returned to Saigon to work with the Ministry of Education. She represented Vietnam in the seven-country Regional Center for Educational...

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The Little Weaver of Thái-Yên Village, Trần Khánh Tuyết

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pp. 149-153

Originally from Saigon, Trần Khánh Tuyết studied abroad as a teenager in Marseilles and London. She studied political science at Đà Lạt University before dropping out of school to devote her energies to volunteer social work in the Vietnam Highlands. In 1966 she...

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from The Land I Lost, Huyhn Quang Nhuong

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pp. 154-160

Huynh Quang Nhuong was born in 1936 in Mỹ Tho. He received his degree in chemistry from Saigon University in 1962 before being drafted into the South Vietnamese Army. In the war, Huynh was permanently paralyzed by a bullet wound. In 1969 he came to...

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from Miles from Home, Anna Kim-Lan McCauley

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pp. 161-165

Anna Kim-Lan McCauley was born Nguyen Thi Kim-Lan in 1948 in the small village of Xuan Canh, north of Hanoi. She was the fifth of seven children. At the age of eight, an eye infection left her permanently and totally blind. As her village became a battleground...

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from Monkey Bridge, Lan Cao

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pp. 166-182

Lan Cao was born in Saigon in 1961 and grew up in Chợ Lớn, the Chinese district of Saigon. The daughter of an officer in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), she volunteered in an army hospital when she was a teenager. There she made an important friendship with an...

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From placing the accents, Trương Tran

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pp. 183-186

Trương Tran was born in 1969 in Saigon, where his father was a major in the South Vietnamese Army. In 1975 he and his family immigrated to San Jose, California. He attended college at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he developed “Youth Poetry...

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From “Georgia Red Dirt,” Andrew Spieldenner

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pp. 187-192

Andrew Spieldenner was born in 1972 in a military hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. His father, an American GI, met Andrew’s Vietnamese mother while on a tour of duty in Vietnam. Spieldenner holds a BA in ethnic studies from the University of California,...

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from Song of the Cicadas, Mộng Lan

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pp. 193-196

Mộng Lan was born in Saigon in 1970. At the age of five, she left Vietnam on the last day of the evacuation of Saigon. She and her family moved around the southern and western parts of the United States before settling in Houston, Texas. A painter, photographer...

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from In the Mynah Bird’s Own Words, Barbara Tran

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pp. 197-201

Barbara Tran was born in 1968 in New York City. She was the last of seven children; her six siblings were born in Vietnam. Though uncertain about the precise events that brought her family to the United States, she is reticent to question family members: “There is the...

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from The Book of Salt, Monique Truong

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pp. 202-206

Monique Truong was born in Saigon in 1968. She grew up in Cần Thơ until the age of six, when she left Vietnam with her mother in what they thought was merely “a precautionary measure” during the chaos of April 1975. Her father, an oil company...

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from “the gangster we are all looking for,” lê thi diem thúy

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pp. 207-214

lê thi diem thúy was born in Phan Thiết in 1972. In 1978 she left Vietnam by boat, eventually settling in Southern California. In 1990 she became the first San Diego High School student to earn the National Council...

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from All Around What Empties Out, Linh Dinh

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pp. 215-217

Linh Dinh was born in Saigon in 1963. In 1975 he came to the United States, staying for the next sixteen years in Philadelphia. He graduated in 1986 from the University of the Arts, after which he worked a variety of jobs, including office clerk, house painter, house cleaner, and window...

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from “Visitors,” Aimee Phan

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pp. 218-229

Aimee Phan was born in 1977 in Orange County, California. As a child, she was powerfully influenced by her mother who was a social worker in Little Saigon; she worked primarily with Vietnamese foster children, whom Phan calls “the unluckiest of all the Vietnamese...

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from Breaking the Map, Kim-An Lieberman

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pp. 230-234

Kim-An Lieberman was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1974. Her mother is a Vietnamese-language professor, originally from Hanoi, who came to the United States in the 1960s to study at the...

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From Living Dead in Denmark, Qui Nguyen

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pp. 235-246

Born in El Dorado, Arkansas, in 1967, Qui Nguyen earned his BA in theater from Louisiana Tech University (1999) and holds an MFA in playwriting from the Ohio University School of Theatre (2002). He...

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“It Was His Story,” Khanh Ho

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pp. 247-248

Khanh Ho was born in Nha Tranh in 1971. He emigrated at the age of four, settling in the Los Angeles area. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles, earning his MA, BA, and PhD there...


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pp. 249-250

E-ISBN-13: 9780824860189
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824834463

Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- Vietnamese American authors.
  • American literature -- 21st century.
  • American literature -- 20th century.
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