This English-language debut by Vietnamese poet Nguyen is a story of familial love, kindness, and perseverance that never loses sight of the violence, displacement, and intergenerational trauma inflicted on the Vietnamese people. Necessary own-voices reading for people, like me, who grew up learning about Vietnam only through the lens of war. Recommended By Emily B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"An epic account of Việt Nam's painful 20th century history, both vast in scope and intimate in its telling . . . Moving and riveting." VIET THANH NGUYEN, author of The Sympathizer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee's Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner's In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.
Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.
The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's first novel in English.
"A poignant and vivid portrayal of a brutal slice of Vietnamese history from a perspective that is so rarely heard abroad: that of the Vietnamese themselves. We are starkly reminded of how those wars — and wars everywhere — wash over and drown both the guilty and innocent alike."
Doreen Baingana, author of Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe
"Expansive in scope and feeling, The Mountains Sing is a feat of hope, an unflinchingly felt inquiry into the past, with the courageous storytelling of the present." Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
"A sweeping tale of one family's shifting fortunes in Vietnam across half a century . . . Invitingly and gracefully told . . . A richly imagined story of severed bonds amid conflict." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Good literature frees us from being trapped in our own skins by allowing us to identify with characters and see the world through their eyes. Reading this novel, I was moved by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's beautiful, even poetic, depictions of enduring courage. I came away with a deeper understanding of the war in which I fought." Karl Marlantes, bestselling author of Matterhorn, What It's Like to Go to War, and Deep River
About the Author
Born into the Việt Nam War in 1973, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai grew up witnessing the war's devastation and its aftermath. She worked as a street seller and rice farmer before winning a scholarship to attend university in Australia. She is the author of eight books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction published in Vietnamese, and her writing has been translated and published in more than ten countries, most recently in Norton's Inheriting the War anthology. She has been honored with many awards, including the Poetry of the Year 2010 Award from the Hà Nội Writers Association, as well as many grants and fellowships. Married to a European diplomat, Quế Mai is currently living in Jakarta with her two teenage children. For more information about Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, visit her at www.nguyenphanquemai.com.