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The Weight of History: Writing from Vietnam

November 2018

Image: Do Thanh Lang, Emotion Chart 5, acrylic on glossy pp synthetic paper, April 2014. By arrangement with the artist.

This month we bring you writing from Vietnam. The prose writers and poets here explore and depict lives shaped by the country’s fraught politics as well as by their own personal histories. Poet and literary critic Nhã Thuyên escorts us through the poetic underground. In two wildly contrasting portraits of marriage, Bùi Ngọc Tấn pens a gentle ode to lifelong love, and Trần Dần observes a household torn apart by infidelity and political betrayal. Trần Thị NgH’s wry divorcée looks back at her checkered romantic past, while Dương Nghiễm Mậu unfurls a hallucinatory reunion. Poets P.K., Pháp Hoan, and Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên suggest the vitality of the poetic scene in Vietnam today. Guest editors Nhã Thuyên and Kaitlin Rees contribute an illuminating introduction.