The Refugees

The Refugees

by Viet Thanh Nguyen


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Published in hardcover to astounding acclaim, The Refugees is the remarkable debut collection of short stories by Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Sympathizer. In these powerful stories, written over a period of twenty years and set in both Vietnam and America, Nguyen paints a vivid portrait of the experiences of people leading lives between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth.

With the same incisiveness as in The Sympathizer, in The Refugees Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to the hopes and expectations of people making life-changing decisions to leave one country for another, and the rifts in identity, loyalties, romantic relationships, and family that accompany relocation. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of migration.

The second work of fiction by a major new voice in American letters, The Refugees is a beautifully written and sharply observed book about the aspirations of those who leave one country for another, and the relationships and desires for self-fulfillment that define our lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802127365
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 01/02/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 110,488
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. He is the author of The Sympathizer, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Edgar Award for First Novel, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the California Book Award for First Fiction, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of the nonfiction books Nothing Ever Dies, a finalist for the National Book Award, and Race and Resistance. The Aerol Arnold Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, he lives in Los Angeles.

Read an Excerpt

Ever since my father died a few years ago, my mother and I had lived together politely. We shared a passion for words, but I preferred writing in silence while she loved to talk. She constantly fed me gossip and stories, the only kind I enjoyed concerning my father when he was a man I did not know, young and happy. Then came stories of terror like the one about the reporter, the moral being that life, like the police, enjoys beating people now and again. Finally there was her favorite kind, the ghost story, of which she knew many, some even first-hand.

Aunt Six died of a heart attack at seventy-six, she told me once, twice, or perhaps three times, repetition being her habit. I never took her stories seriously. She lived in Vung Tau and we were in Nha Trang, she said. I was bringing dinner to the table when I saw Aunt Six sitting there in her nightgown. Her long gray hair, which she usually wore in a chignon, was loose and fell over her shoulders and in her face. I almost dropped the dishes. When I asked her what she was doing here, she just smiled. She stood up, kissed me, and turned me towards the kitchen. When I turned around again to see her, she was gone. It was her ghost. Uncle confirmed it when I called. She had passed away that morning, in her own bed.

Table of Contents

Black-Eyed Women 1

The Other Man 23

War Years 49

The Transplant 73

I'd Love You to Want Me 99

The Americans 125

Someone Else Besides You 151

Fatherland 181

Two Essays 209

Acknowledgments 225

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The Refugees 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every story is a taste of not only the immigrant experience but the refugee experience. Voices from a time and war that are turning into just another chapter in a history book. Its an amazing book that every classroom should have.
Myndia More than 1 year ago
For days, I’ve been struggling to come up with the right words to describe this collection of short stories. It seems impossible to do them justice with my limited vocabulary. The stories are subtle, but not stark. Quiet but full of meaning. The sentences are eloquent, the stories direct. These stories are about immigration, and finding your way in a foreign land, about the struggles of getting to a new country, and the pain of leaving the old one. They are about the pasts we never think about, pasts that are put behind to make the best foot forward, about defining yourself and finding a way to fit where it seems you don’t belong. But it’s also about love and loss and sacrifice, understanding and acceptance, family and obligation, redefining ourselves, and the many faces we wear. Most importantly, particularly given our current political climate, these stories give life to refugees, humanizing them in a way that heartbreaking news stories don’t, showing them as more than the tragedy that has been visited upon them, showing them as people, like us, humans of flesh and blood, heart and soul, who want the same things most people do. Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago