Synopses & Reviews
From the critically acclaimed author of Beneath a Marble Sky and Beside a Burning Sea—the new novel from “a master storyteller,”* set in contemporary Asia.
From John Shors comes an unforgettable story of redemption set in modern-day Vietnam.
Dragon House tells the tale of Iris and Noah—two Americans who, as a way of healing their own painful pasts, open a center to house and educate Vietnamese street children. In the slums of a city that has known little but war for generations, Iris and Noah befriend children who dream of nothing more than of going to school, having a home, and being loved. Learning from the poorest of the poor, the most silent of the unheard, Iris and Noah find themselves reborn. Resounding with powerful themes of suffering, sacrifice, friendship, and love, Dragon House brings together East and West, war and peace, and celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.
"Shors's third novel tells an absorbing story weakened by melodrama, sentimentality and exposition. After promising her dying father, a Vietnam War veteran, to take care of his shelter for street children in Ho Chi Minh City, American writer Iris agrees to take along her childhood friend Noah, now a depressed veteran who lost his leg in Iraq. In Vietnam, they find the shelter has drawn an appealing cast of Americans and Vietnamese, all seeking escape and salvation, including two children exploited by a brutal drug addict, and an impoverished old woman whose granddaughter is dying of cancer. Though interesting, most characters never overcome Shors's insistence on telling, rather than showing, their inner lives ('he hurt and hated so much'). Melodrama and mawkish foreshadowing ('I'm taking the risks... and everything's going to be just the way it was meant to be') will prove familiar to anyone who's watched a TV movie. Though frustrating, this is the kind of novel (provocative, polarizing, exotic) that should stir book group discussion." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In a large cast of appealing characters, the street children are the heart of this book; their talents, friendships, and perils keep you turning the pages.
Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
I loved this book and cared deeply about the characters brought to life by Shors clear sensitivity to the plight of the unseen and unwanted in Vietnam.
Elizabeth Flock, New York Times bestselling author of Me & Emma
Set in modern-day Vietnam, DRAGON HOUSE tells the tale of Iris and Noah-two Americans, who, as a way of healing their own painful pasts, open a center to house and educate Vietnamese street children. Irish and Noah find themselves reborn in an exotic land filled with corruption and chaos, sacrifice and beauty. Inspired by the street children she meets, Iris walks in the footsteps of her father, a man whom Vietnam both shattered and saved. Meanwhile, Noah slowly rediscovers himself through the eyes of an unexpected companion. Resounding with the powerful themes of suffering, sacrifice, friendship, and love, DRAGON HOUSE brings together East and West, war and peace; and celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.
About the Author
"In a large cast of appealing characters, the street children are the heart of this book; their talents, friendships, and perils keep you turning the pages."
-Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club
"I loved this book and cared deeply about the characters brought to life by Shors' clear sensitivity to the plight of the unseen and unwanted in Vietnam."
-Elizabeth Flock, New York Times bestselling author of Me & Emma
"Amid the wreckage of what's known in Vietnam as the "American War," Shors has set his sprawling, vibrant novel. All of his characters--hustlers, humanitarians, street children--carry wounds, visible or otherwise. And in the cacophony of their voices, he asks that most essential question: "How can we be better?"
-David Oliver Relin, bestselling author of Three Cups of Tea
"There is a tenderness in this moving, deeply descriptive novel that brings all those frequently hidden qualities of compassion, purity of mind, and, yes, love- the things we used to call the human spirit-into the foreground of our feeling as readers. This is a beautiful heart speaking to us of the beautiful world we could and should find, even in the darkness that so often floods the world with fear."
-Gregory David Roberts, bestselling author of Shantaram
"John Shors has written a wonderful novel about two American lives shaped by an encounter with the lives of the Vietnamese people in this present age, decades after that country has faded from the ongoing clamor of news in this country. For that very reason, Shors transcends politics and headlines and finds the timeless and deeply human stories that are the essence of enduring fiction. This is strong, important work from a gifted writer."
-Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain