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This Is All I Choose to Tell

History and Hybridity in Vietnamese American Literature

Authored by Isabelle T. Pelaud

Publication Year: 2011

In the first book-length study of Vietnamese American literature, Isabelle Thuy Pelaud probes the complexities of Vietnamese American identity and politics. She provides an analytical introduction to the literature, showing how generational differences play out in genre and text. In addition, she asks, can the term Vietnamese American be disassociated from representations of the war without erasing its legacy?

Pelaud delineates the historical, social, and cultural terrains of the writing as well as the critical receptions and responses to them. She moves beyond the common focus on the Vietnam war to develop an interpretive framework that integrates post-colonialism with the multi-generational refugee, immigrant, and transnational experiences at the center of Vietnamese American narratives.

Her readings of key works, such as Andrew Pham's Catfish and Mandala and Lan Cao's Monkey Bridge show how trauma, racism, class and gender play a role in shaping the identities of Vietnamese American characters and narrators.

Published by: Temple University Press

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Preface

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pp. vii-viii

As with all researchers and literary critics, the questions I ask and my analysis are shaped by my academic training and personal background. My personal upbringing differs from that of many of my peers. I was born in France to a Vietnamese mother and a French father, and neither one has a college education. I attended a public high school near a small village in the south of France. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

I owe my perseverance to my son, sixteen years old at the time of this writing, as his smile and his trust gave me the strength to keep going on this academic, activist, and creative path. I also owe some of this drive to my mother, her energy and sense of sacrifice; ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-4

This Is All I Choose to Tell offers an analytical introduction to Vietnamese American literature, and delineates the historical, social, and cultural terrains from which the writings emerge and critics read and interpret them. It addresses the debates, themes, and ...

Part One: Inclusion

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1. History

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pp. 7-21

In a speech to Veterans of Foreign Wars on August 22, 2007, President George W. Bush said: “One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our...

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2. Overview

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pp. 22-43

Vietnamese American writers have published more than one hundred literary books in English since 1963. This body of work is diverse and heterogeneous.1 This chapter provides an overview of some of the major phases of that literature. Although not exhaustive, it traces its development and delineates and discusses main ...

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3. Hybridity

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pp. 44-60

I committed to the field of Asian American studies instead of anthropology because of its emphasis on race, class, and gender, and because I believed fighting for social change needed to start here, in my new American home. In France, critical discussion of race was nonexistent in high school. Asian American studies classes ...

Part Two: Interpretation

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4. Survival

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pp. 63-101

Vietnamese American communities originated with war. As in the Philippines (1898–1910) and in Korea (1950–1953), American intervention in Viet Nam (1959–1975) was a manifestation of empire building.1 In contrast to those conflicts however, the Viet Nam War was highly visible, both domestically and internationally. ...

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5. Hope and Despair

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pp. 102-117

Mikhail Bakhtin has argued that literature does not fully reflect the real but rather “a social struggle for unity.”1 Although Vietnamese American texts can be used carefully and strategically to draw commentary about the experience of the group, they are creative works that respond to what Bakhtin describes as “the quotidian ...

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6. Reception

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pp. 118-133

In a recently published, highly acclaimed book of short stories entitled The Boat, author Nam Le explores issues of authenticity. 1 Speaking to a journalist about the first story in his collection, “Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice,” Le talks about pressures of containment that writers of color often face. “One of the chief ambitions of the story,” says Le, ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 135-137

In writing this volume, I walked a fine line between the desire to represent, primarily for the purpose of social justice, and the desire not to replicate the logic of domination that can take place when abiding by a nonself-reflective and nonstrategic essential-ist approach.1 The main goal of This Is All I Choose to Tell is to ...

Notes

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pp. 139-169

Bibliography

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pp. 171-189

Index

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pp. 191-198


E-ISBN-13: 9781439902189
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439902172

Page Count: 198
Publication Year: 2011