NOVEL WITHOUT A NAME by Duong Thu Huong

NOVEL WITHOUT A NAME

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Another novel of life in wartime North Vietnam from dissident and former Communist Duong (Paradise of the Blind, 1993), whose experience as a Communist Youth Brigade leader gives this story special resonance. The narrator is 28-year-old Quan, a North Vietnamese soldier who has been fighting for ten years. Hair graying, his body worn down by malnutrition and disease, Quan recalls the idealism and Communist fervor that made him first enlist as he and his division now fight on towards the delta. His disillusionment increases as he helps a childhood friend, who has been kept in horrible squalor because the war has driven him mad, find a less dangerous billet, making coffins for the dead soldiers in the midst of the jungle. Quan then returns to his native village, where he finds his father, a former political activist, ill and depressed, unable to get over his guilt at forcing Quan's young brother--a brilliant student--to enlist. (The boy later died.) Quan's great love, pregnant by an unknown man, is shunned by the village and must live in an isolated shack. Only the village's political officer still seems to believe in Marxism. The surrounding countryside is devastated; few young men are left, and the villages are filled with old men and women. Lyrical memories of the past are interspersed with reports of ongoing fighting in which army buddies and fellow villagers lose their lives. Life between battles is no less dangerous: Tigers claim victims, malaria and dysentery strike, and tension leads to murderous fights. By the time Quan's detachment reaches the South only a dozen veterans remain; the rest are young conscripts. Quan will advance even further now, but for what? ``Glory only lasts so long.'' One of those timely novels that assault the status quo with quiet but deadly revelations of the hitherto unknown. Beautifully elegiac. (First serial to Grand Street)

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1995
ISBN: 0-688-12782-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1994




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