un\\martyred: [self-]vanishing presences in Vietnamese poetry by Nhã Thuyên, a Hanoi-based poet and critic, is a collection of essays that offers a cartography of the writing communities that have lived (and died) along the margins of Vietnam’s literary landscape since the Renovation period of the late 1980’s.
Brian Eyler isn’t a fan of dams, perhaps any of them, but at least not those that are, or may be, on the Mekong.
The term “historical novel” usually arouses images of 18th-century swashbuckling. Sweden, however, is a historical novel set much closer to our own time. According to the official record, more than half a million American servicemen attempted to desert during the Vietnam War.
America’s Vietnam challenges the prevailing genealogy of Vietnam’s emergence in the American imagination—one that presupposes the Vietnam War as the starting point of meaningful Vietnamese-US political and cultural involvements. Examining literature from as early as the 1820s, Marguerite Nguyen takes a comparative, long historical approach to interpreting constructions of Vietnam in American literature.
China shares borders with 14 other countries, more than almost any other nation. Its near neighbors represent a diverse collection of countries, from dominant powers such as Russia and India, to the smaller emerging nations of Laos and Bhutan. Throughout China’s history, it is through these borders that the influencing forces of trade, ideology and imperialism have traveled. China’s border regions have resumed their importance in recent years with political protest among the country’s ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, and the development of the One Belt, One Road initiative—which seeks to further bind China’s neighbors to its economic agenda through the creation of a “New Silk Road”. As it currently stands, China’s borders represent an opportunity for trade and cultural exchange, but also a risk from political agitation, terrorism and even military conflict.
Bandes dessinées are a francophone tradition; to call them “comic books” is do to them a disservice. The English term “graphic novel” isn’t quite right either, since a bande dessinée might, as is this one, be non-fiction; and while the artwork in contemporary English-language comics is not as dire as it once was, the emphasis is, as the term implies, as often as not on “graphics” rather than work in traditional media.
The “thousand star hotel” of the title is a metaphor of the night sky, the roof of the homeless. Bao Phi’s prose poem attributes this to a self-deprecating Vietnamese joke. Who knows? It is just one of perhaps one thousand metaphors, images and turns of phrase that sparkle in this new collection.