Tragic, sometimes thrilling but terrifying life of a young Vietnamese whose woes abroad have nonetheless landed him in the US, where he graduated from Bennington and in 1992 received an MFA from Brown. ``Jade'' Ngoc Quang Huynh's 12 childhood years on the Mekong Delta went by like a dream compared with the hell that befell his family of 17 children when the Tet offensive exploded on New Year's 1968. Then, between the black-pajamaed Viet Cong psychopaths threatening the Huynhs and the American choppers shooting up the delta, Jade and his family found themselves swimming from one wave of horror to the next—through bursting bullets, mined roads, and sharpened stakes—while attempting to reach a second family dwelling in Vinh Binh City. Once there, they had nothing, while the war went on ``like a chronic disease.'' Eventually, Jade lost six brothers and sisters as well as other family members. At 18, he was attending Saigon University when the city fell to the invaders, and he soon found himself facing indoctrination, then being sent to a labor camp simply for being a student. There, he was given explosively dangerous work clearing mines, was tortured and lived among men tortured incessantly, starved, ate lizards, rats, and crickets to stay alive, watched men murdered by proselytizers for Ho Chi Minh, buried the dead, built dikes for rice fields, and hoped for a Cambodian invasion in which he might escape during the confusion. After three years, he escapeed and ended up in a refugee camp. A lost brother, a pilot whom he thought dead, turned out to be alive in Mississippi, sent money, and told him to relocate in the States. He learned English flipping Big Macs at McDonald's, and at last began his US education. Amid nature's beauty, hope survives an incredible bloodbath.
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