"GOODBYE, SAIGON" by Nina Vida


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This fast and furious novel by the author of Return From Darkness (1986) chronicles the adventures of Truong Anh, a fast-talking Vietnamese refugee who sets up a phony law firm in Little Saigon, the Vietnamese enclave of Los Angeles. Anh supports herself, her aged mother, her younger sister with four children, and her truant brother on the money she makes advising gamblers in a high-stakes Vietnamese card game. When her latest big spender lands in the hospital after a cocaine overdose, she finds herself out of luck and out of cash. After tracking down his law office, Anh convinces the man's impoverished secretary, Jana Glavan (who has her own family to support), to borrow his Bar number -- necessary to transact legal business in LA -- and start the fake firm. Interwoven with the action are Anh's memories of her childhood in Vietnam: her favorite brother's death in a bombing; life as a prostitute in her uncle's brothel; the birth of her Amerasian child; the frantic attempt to get out of Vietnam, which culminated in her father's ghastly betrayal of her trust. When Anh and Jana refuse to become involved in gang activity (though technically illegal, the firm's business is legitimate), they pay a heavy price for their integrity and independence. Jana has her own nightmarish past -- her husband was murdered, and she was kidnapped by the killer -- but Vida never fully delves into it; Jana's character pales next to the larger-than-life Anh. Likewise, Anh's romantic interest, lawyer Sam Knowlton (a Vietnam vet who may have known her in the brothel), is an oblique presence, and his passion for Anh (who certainly deserves a chance at love) is unconvincing. Powerhouse fiction, fueled by an obnoxious yet sympathetic protagonist whose grittiness and determination hold together the frenetic plot.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1994
ISBN: 0003659372
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Crown