Slander ($30.00, paper $14.00; Nov. 19, 1996; 168 pp.; 0-8032- 2913-5, paper 0-8032-7963-9): Là's fifth novel but first to be translated into English: a tense, bitter portrayal of a Vietnamese family blighted by insanity, adultery, and incest, observed by the daughter who labors to distance herself from her depressing, indeed disastrous, origins. Written in French and first published in 1993, this spare, cunningly fashioned tale juxtaposes a riot of powerful sensory impressions against—and as correlatives of—the narrator's vitriolic memories. The novel's rigorous nihilism, however, undercuts its considerable artistry; the reader shares the narrator's wish to escape from this experience, and to forget it as quickly as possible.
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