Phuong had seen the film on a pirated videotape, and was seduced immediately by the glamour, beauty, and sadness of Scarlett O’Hara, heroine and embodiment of a doomed South. Was it too much to suppose that the ruined Confederacy, with its tragic sense of itself, bore more than a passing similarity to her father’s southern Republic and its resentful remnants?
-from the story “Fatherland”
Here are my thoughts on the stories included in Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Refugees:
Black-Eyed Women: In my post for Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer, I didn’t mention that he uses ghosts as not only a little comic relief but to great literary effect. In this story, he does it again. Maybe not for the comedy but, again, for great literary effect and story-telling.
The Other Man: Two gay men sponsor a Vietnamese refugee sometime around the late 1970’s. They all have some adjustments to make.
War Years: A story demonstrating that a totalitarian mindset can begin anywhere – even in a group of Vietnam refugees making their way in the United States.
The Transplant: A Hispanic man attempts to locate the family of the Vietnamese man who gave him his liver. It takes him places he wasn’t intending.
I’d Love You to Want Me: I already posted about this one here. My favorite one of the group!
The Americans: Unless I missed it, this is the one story that does not include Vietnamese refugees; however, refugees can take other forms in America.
Someone Else Besides You: A tough father and son story might make this my second favorite story here.
Fatherland: This one tells the story of the wartime affect on the next generation of a refugee family. Not everyone is able to pull themselves up by their boot straps.