Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong (tr. Phan Huy Duong & Nina McPherson)

a nutshell: a young woman, Hang, lucidly recalls her childhood in the Hanoi slums where she was forever torn between two sides of a family splintered by the Vietnamese Communist Party’s land reforms

a line“Hundreds of faces rose in my memory: those of my friends, people of my generation, faces gnawed with worry, shattered faces, twisted, ravaged, sooty, frantic faces.”

an image: Hang gazes out of a train window and feels wounded by the beauty of the Russian countryside under the stars – she paints a picture of light sparking off snowflakes, frail & luminous as a childhood dream

a thought: this is an exquisite novel, overflowing with intoxicating imagery and devastating insights into what it was to grow up in such a contradictory era

a fact: aged 20, the author led a Communist Youth Brigade on the front in the war against the US – but as a vocal advocate of human rights & democratic political reform, she was expelled from the Vietnamese Communist Party in 1989 and imprisoned without trial for seven months; the authorities effectively banned all four of her novels and Duong was long forbidden from travelling abroad

 

want to read Paradise of the Blind? visit here

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