The Refugees

The Refugees

From the Pulitzer-prize winning author of The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen, comes this collection of gently sad and poignant stories about Vietnamese refugees and their lives in the United States.

Browse titles by subject matter
Subscribe to the Mekong Review
Travelfish.org are big fans of the Mekong Review. If you’d like to read intelligent and thoughtful material about the region, please consider subscribing. We do.

Each story is in some way a revealing snippet of the new lives they have made for themselves and the struggles they have faced along the way, whether as devastating as the deaths of family members in the American War, or as personal as discovering one’s sexuality.

It shouldn’t be a measure of a short story’s worth, but we wished each one of these had been spun out into a full-length novel. The characters are swiftly drawn but complex, the sketches of their lives at once bold but nuanced. These are stories of relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, people and countries.

The son of refugees doesn’t respond when his mother tells him of people in her village dying of famine, as he’s focused on earning money for a comic book:

“It was the kind of story she told all the time, and in any case, I was too distracted to ask questions. She was paying me for every strand I found and I was intent on my search, each gray hair bringing me one nickel closer to the next issue of Captain America.”

There’s Louis, a counterfeit items peddler tracked down by a man looking for the relatives of his liver donor, who lives a solo life in a rundown flat but owns other more splendid ones:

“‘I’m tired of love,’ Louis said, as if it were a kind of soft, malodorous French cheese. ‘It’s okay, but the problem with it is the other person involved. She has a mind of her own. You can’t say the same thing about things.’“

Then there’s the teenager sponsored to live in America by a gay couple in San Francisco:

“Liem understood he was one of the good uses for the money Parrish had earned in two decades as a corporate accountant, a job he’d given up a few years before to work in environmental protection.”

The glimpses of Vietnam are powerful and the insight into the lives of the Vietnamese who are uprooted by war and transplanted into a new foreign culture is intimate. And while there are common threads between people, each story is individual and striking in its own way. These are stories about what it means to be a human and to navigate our cultures, our families and friends, and our countries, however many we may each have in our hearts. Read it and know that everyone has a life more complicated than you could possibly know by looking at them.

Buy online: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble |



108 results found

Burma (Myanmar)

Burmese Days
Burmese Days

By George Orwell

Finding George Orwell
Finding George Orwell

By Emma Larkin

Miss Burma
Miss Burma

By Charmaine Craig

The Glass Palace
The Glass Palace

By Amitav Ghosh

The Trouser People
The Trouser People

By Andrew Marshall

Cambodia

Dogs at the Perimeter
Dogs at the Perimeter

By Madeleine Thien

Holiday in Cambodia
Holiday in Cambodia

By Laura Jean McKay

Hun Sen’s Cambodia
Hun Sen’s Cambodia

By Sebastian Strangio

Hunters in the Dark
Hunters in the Dark

By Lawrence Osborne

King Norodom's Head
King Norodom's Head

By Steven W. Boswell

River of Time
River of Time

By Jon Swain

The Gate
The Gate

By Francoise Bizot

Indonesia

A House in Bali
A House in Bali

By Colin McPhee

Beauty is a Wound
Beauty is a Wound

By Eka Kurniawan

Black Water
Black Water

By Louise Doughty

Home
Home

By Leila S. Chudori

In the Time of Madness
In the Time of Madness

By Richard Lloyd Parry

Indonesia Etc.
Indonesia Etc.

By Elizabeth Pisani

On the Java Ridge
On the Java Ridge

By Jock Serong

Ring of Fire
Ring of Fire

By Lawrence Blair

The Malay Archipelago
The Malay Archipelago

By Alfred Russel Wallace

The Rainbow Troops
The Rainbow Troops

By Andrea Hirata

The Year of Living Dangerously
The Year of Living Dangerously

By Christopher J. Koch

This Earth of Mankind
This Earth of Mankind

By Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Under the Volcano
Under the Volcano

By Cameron Forbes

Laos

Malaysia

Singapore

Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians

By Kevin Kwan

From Third World to First
From Third World to First

By Lee Kuan Yew

If I Could Tell You
If I Could Tell You

By Jing-Jing Lee

In Transit: An Anthology
In Transit: An Anthology

By Zhang Ruihe and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow

Sarong Party Girls
Sarong Party Girls

By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

Singapore Noir
Singapore Noir

By Cheryl Lu-Tien Tan

State of Emergency
State of Emergency

By Jeremy Tiang

Sugarbread
Sugarbread

By Balli Kaur Jaswal

The Tower
The Tower

By Isa Kamari (translated by Alfian Sa'at)

Thailand

A Tiger in Eden
A Tiger in Eden

By Chris Flynn

Bangkok Found
Bangkok Found

By Alex Kerr

Hothouse Flower
Hothouse Flower

By Lucinda Riley

Jasmine Nights
Jasmine Nights

By S.P. Somtow

Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind
Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind

By Carol Hollinger

Many Lives
Many Lives

By M.R Kukrit Pramoj

Sightseeing
Sightseeing

By Rattawut Lapcharoensap

Thai Street Food
Thai Street Food

By David Thompson

The Beach
The Beach

By Alex Garland

The Drinking Food of Thailand
The Drinking Food of Thailand

By Andy Ricker with JJ Goode

The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Narrow Road to the Deep North

By Richard Flanagan

The Sad Part Was
The Sad Part Was

By Prabda Yoon

The Windup Girl
The Windup Girl

By Paolo Bacigalupi

Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture
Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture

By Philip Cornwel-Smith

Vietnam

Bright Shining Lie
Bright Shining Lie

By Neil Sheehan

Destination Saigon
Destination Saigon

By Walter Mason

Dragon Apparent
Dragon Apparent

By Norman Lewis

Fishing for Tigers
Fishing for Tigers

By Emily Maguire

The Lover
The Lover

By Marguerite Duras

The Quiet American
The Quiet American

By Graham Greene

The Sorrow of War
The Sorrow of War

By Bao Ninh

The Sympathizer
The Sympathizer

By Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Things They Carried
The Things They Carried

By Tim O’Brien

When the War Was Over
When the War Was Over

By Elizabeth Becker

General