The author does not shy away from jarring narrative perspectives. Part Two takes a look at life in Vietnam after the war. Characters like Lai’s father, a legless NVA veteran who cares for his grandson while his daughter works as a hostess (prostitute) in a disco, explore the war’s lasting effects with a bittersweet humor. His grandson is half African-American, and the vet, who spared an African-American soldier in the war, says to himself, “A karmic joke: Since you liked the first one so much, here! Have another one.” Not every literary tone poem presented here is successful. “Two Who Forgot” is more of a rant than a story. But the train wreck of war is hard to look away from, and Dinh, the poet, holds a mirror to the lives of all who suffered and dares the reader to look away. Yet his inveterate use of profane language and raw sexual detail may limit the book’s readership. (Oct.)
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Dinh, a poet and short-story writer, left his native Vietnam in 1975 at age 12 and lived in the U.S. until 1998, when he returned to Saigon. This intimacy with two disparate cultures linked by war imbues his terse and edgy stories with an unsettling blend of anger and resignation. Writing from the point of view of both men and women, Americans and Vietnamese, Dinh portrays a spectrum of hapless characters, from a white man considering ordering an Asian mail-order bride, to a Vietnamese man wondering why more young women in his village don’t accept money to marry foreigners, to a white woman who believes she’s the ugliest female in the world, to a Vietnamese soldier who, as the only literate man in his battalion, reads everyone else’s mail while receiving none himself. Dinh’s painful stories feature tricky dialogue rife with pointedly racist misinformation, linguistic confusion, and dunning vulgarities, and evoke a skeptical yet tender vision of humanity, similar in spirit, if not in literary artistry, to that of Sherman Alexie and Aleksandar Hemon. Donna Seaman
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“Linh Dinh’s is a unique voice in contemporary American literature. He writes with the raging wit and the soul of a poet. Infused with beautiful black humor, Fake House marks an auspicious debut for this exciting young writer.” –Jessica Hagedorn, author of Dogeaters and The Gangster of Love
“Twenty-one nervy stories portraying Asian and American culture, separately and in conflict, by a poet . . . known for his editorship of an important anthology of Vietnamese Fiction (Night, Again, 1996). . . . Vividly imagined characters . . . an interesting collection.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Bloody and bilious, scabrous and scatological, elliptical and oddly redemptive, Linh Dinh’s Fake House is a raw and disturbing work from a powerful young writer.” –David Lida, author of Travel Advisory: Stories of Mexico
About the Author
A recipient of a Pew Foundation grant, a David T. Wong Fellowship, a Lannan Residency and, most recently, the Asian American Literary Award, LINH DINH
was born in Saigon in 1963 and emigrated to the United States in 1975. An acclaimed and provocative writer of short stories and contemporary fables, he is also the author of several books of poems and a novel, Love Like Hate
. Linh has edited the anthologies Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam
and Three Vietnamese Poets
. His collection of stories, Blood and Soap
was chosen by the Village Voice
as one of the Best Books of 2004. Linh’s nonfiction essays have been published regularly at Unz Review
, Intrepid Report
, and his blog, Postcards from the End of America
(linhdinhphotos.blogspot.com), is followed by thousands of readers. He has also published widely in Vietnamese.
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