An exquisite and intense journey through the labyrinths of Hanoi, Leningrad, and Paris—through dreams, memory, and lossAn abandoned package is discovered in the Paris Metro: the subway workers suspect it’s a terrorist bomb. A Vietnamese woman sitting nearby, her son asleep on her shoulder, waits and begins to reflect on her life, from her constrained childhood in communist Hanoi, to a long period of study in Leningrad during the Gorbachev period, and finally to the Parisian suburbs where she now teaches English. Through everything runs her passion for Thuy, the father of her son, a writer who lives in Saigon’s Chinatown, and who, with the shadow of the China-Vietnam border war falling darkly between them, she has not seen for eleven years.
Through her breathless, vertiginous, and deeply moving monologue from beside the subway tracks, the narrator attempts to once and for all face the past and exorcize the passion that haunts her.
THUAN (Doan Anh Thuan) was born in 1967 in Hanoi. Chinatown is her twelfth novel and her first to be translated into English. She is a recipient of the Writers’ Union Prize, the highest award in Vietnamese literature.
Nguyen An Lý lives in Vietnam and co-edits the online, independent, open-access Zzz Review. Her translations, mostly from English into Vietnamese, include works by authors such as Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, George Orwell, and Amos Oz.