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With the coruscating gaze that informed The Sympathizer, in The Refugees Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to lives led between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration.
The second piece of fiction by a major new voice in American letters, The Refugees is a beautifully written and sharply observed book about the aspirations of those who leave one country for another and the relationships and desires for self-fulfillment that define our lives.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Thomas More on 03-19-17
Good collection of short stories
After reading his award-winning The Sympathizer, I wanted to follow it up by looking at some more stories from Viet Thanh Nguyen. The Refugees is a collection of eight or nine stories that saw original publication in order sources. After the success of The Sympathizer, his publisher brought these works together into this collection. All the stories feature Vietnamese characters and are set either in America as immigrant tales, or in Vietnam, as is the case with the last story of the collection featuring a father who receives a visit from a daughter who has "made it big" in the states as a pediatrician. Themes such as aging, young love, regret, and deceit work strongly throughout the collection. All of the stories are excellent and help to illuminate the lives of Vietnamese immigrants.
The author narrates the collection himself, and as is often the case with such things (SEE "The Lovely Bones," as an example) the results are good, but not great. Great narration is an art in itself, and sometimes the best idea is to bring in a hired gun for the job.
42 of 44 people found this review helpful
By Freyda Schwartz Greenman on 02-23-17
What made the experience of listening to The Refugees the most enjoyable?
Mr. Nguyen command of the English language and his storytelling. Emotional, insightful, informative.
What did you like best about this story?
Different aspects and personalities of the characters in each story
Have you listened to any of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I listened to The Sympathizer -- though written but not read by him.
That book was excellent - listened twice.
He reads as well as he writes.
Listened to this book twice as well.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful