The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen – The best collection of short stories I’ve read till date

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Yeah, that’s right. The best. Short Stories. Till date.

I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t know it was a collection of short stories when I bought the book. I want to visit Vietnam, it’s been a long-standing dream – Ha Long Bay and Hanoi. And you see, I love war stories. Majority of fiction I read is based around war. So I bought the book six months back and partially owing to the 3.9 rating on Goodreads, I’d shelved it. Well, not really shelved. A lot of my books are towered up on my desk rendering me with back ache as I read on my bed. But you know what they say, you can never have too many books.

I’d give this an easy 4.7. I’ll try not to spoil anything by writing this review, but the author has beautifully captured the essence of Vietnam in this book. Not for just those native to Vietnam, it makes you feel reminiscent even though you’ve never really been there yourself. In less than ten pages, he manages to explore an entire family, their history, he makes you feel connected to them and manages to make you yearn for more.  Every story narrates the current circumstance and how being a refugee has influenced it, how being in America has shaped them, their family trying to latch on to old ways, the only ones who remember the war and the terror of fleeing from their homeland, forced to start their lives from scratch, and trying to feel at home, frequenting Little Saigon.

He shows the stark difference between American culture and that of the Vietnamese and how these people are caught between two world and the society whims and wants, and figuring out what they want. Haunted by the ghost of the war, the war that they still can’t escape, after having travelled halfway across the world, Nguyen portrays people, real as it gets, in stories so charming and alluring you’ll want to cry.

Published by Faltering on cloud nine.

Find me a book with killer humor and you’re my new best friend.

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