Over the course of thirty-seven fragments, an elderly man coming to an understanding of his world tells the “story” of his village: chronicles of a village serves as an indictment of History for what it leaves out. The narrator often offers a curiously romantic view of a pastoral world that is being overtaken by the outside world, and as a celebration/tribute/elegy for his father, mother, and brother. 

“My watch reads ten o’clock,” opens Thuan’s Chinatown, a novel that displays a writer in full play with language and story-telling. Her narrator begins a two-hour interior monologue that is the bulk of the novel. She is on a stopped train in the Métro in Paris. Her twelve-year-old son is asleep against her shoulder. An unattended duffel bag has raised the uncertainty of a bomb. Most passengers have disembarked, opting for other ways to their destinations. Along with three others, the narrator sits. Her mind wanders through the jumble of experiences, emotions, and places she continues to live. At times, these are overwhelmed by the larger world, with forays into the massive emigration of Vietnamese to France, the collapse of the USSR, and the effects of such events on ordinary lives. She is thirty-nine, Vietnamese, a writer, and currently teaching in France.