Annam ($15.95; Sept. 30, 1996; 112 pp.; 0-8112-1330-7): This skillfully understated first novel describes in muted though harrowing detail the ordeal undergone by an expedition of French clergy sent as missionaries to Vietnam during the late-18th-century reign of Louis XVI. Orphaned by the Revolution (in effect, forgotten by their country), the uprooted monks and nuns experience both the failure of their mission and a rigorous testing of their faith. This subtle and moving roman (here beautifully translated by Richard Howard) won France's Prix du Premier Roman in 1993, when the author was 21.
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