Monday, March 23, 2009

The Boat, by Nam Le

A review I wrote about Nam Le's excellent debut short-story collection The Boat is now up at The Quarterly Conversation.

Also be sure to check out some of the excellent essays and reviews from the last issue, especially those on Zone, by Mathias Énard; Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra; and Ghosts by Cesar Aira.

Here is a part of my review:
The first story of The Boat, “Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice,” does overwhelm with the force of its experience and the audacity of its ideas. It is Le’s greatest success of the collection. A story about a writer appropriately named Nam struggling over whether to use his father’s account of surviving My Lai and North Vietnamese prison camps for a creative writing assignment, “Love and Honor” is pulse-quickeningly perfect in its delicate forcing of the many questions surrounding immigrant or ethnic lit—what counts as authenticity, what counts as exploitation, what is a personal narrative and who can write it. In 26 pages, Le not only invigorates the debates about these questions but manages to excite the reader that they are being asked.

No comments: