Did you hear about Mrs Binh?

Adam Mars-Jones

  • BuyThe Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
    Corsair, 209 pp, £12.99, February, ISBN 978 1 4721 5255 8

These eight stories, by the author of last year’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Sympathiser, are clear-eyed and effective, uniform in length, evenly pitched in tone. Viet Thanh Nguyen dedicates the book to ‘all refugees, everywhere’, but his focus is on those who came from Vietnam and settled in California. There are nuances of displacement, and in some ways the Vietnamese experience of exile was a special case. The traumatised state of those arriving in America found an echo in their host country, unused to defeat, still less defeat without honour.

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