𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐌𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬 𝐒𝐢𝐧𝐠
𝐁𝐲 𝐍𝐠𝐮𝐲𝐞𝐧 𝐏𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐐𝐮𝐞 𝐌𝐚𝐢
𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐫: 𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧
𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐝: 𝟏𝟕𝐭𝐡 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐡 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟎
𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: 𝐇𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐅𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧/ 𝐕𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐧𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐋𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞
𝐑𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐘𝐞𝐚𝐫: 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟒
The author narrates the story through two protagonists and interweaving timelines. The first protagonist, Grandma Diệu Lan, was born in 1920 into a prosperous farming family. The second protagonist is Hủỏng, the granddaughter, who grew up amid the Vietnam-American War (1960-1970) with both her parents absent – her father as a soldier and her mother as a doctor. Both individual timelines progress chronologically, yet they alternate within the narrative. For instance, one chapter may depict a scene of Grandma Diệu Lan as a young girl, while the next chapter could portray her as an elderly woman. The chapters set before 1970 are presented in the first person by Grandma Diệu Lan, while those set after 1970 are recounted in the first person by the granddaughter. While this narrative structure may pose some confusion, the chapter breaks consistently provide the date and place, aiding in clarity.
The author employs a straightforward and vivid writing style. She adeptly immerses readers in a world and culture that may be unfamiliar to them. Introducing Vietnamese words and phrases, exploring religious practices and beliefs, and depicting everyday life, the author successfully creates a rich backdrop. Despite unfolding against the backdrop of war, this isn't solely a war-focused book. Instead, it serves as a novel centered around family, highlighting the unwavering determination to protect and support loved ones. While certain parts may be somber, the essence of the story lies in the characters' care for one another and their steadfast devotion.
The simple characters, the storytelling's anecdotal style, and the explanatory dialogues collectively impart a fable-like quality to The Mountains Sing. Despite the realistic portrayal, complete with instances of violence and hardship, the novel doesn't aim to be a gritty war narrative. Instead, it unfolds as the journey of a nation undergoing division and reunification, symbolized by a family traversing a parallel course.
The storytelling in this book proved to be extraordinary, and truly amazing. While I had some knowledge about Vietnam, it was limited, especially from the perspectives of those affected by significant events like the Land Reform and the Vietnam War. The parallel narrative structure, alternating between grandma Dieu Lan's and Huong's stories, was exceptionally clever. One prominent theme that resonated with me was hope. Despite enduring constant challenges, both Tran and Huong's lives were portrayed with a profound sense of hope amidst the prevailing darkness. Mai artfully acknowledges the trauma associated with their experiences, keeping it front and center.
"The Mountains Sing" unfolds as a powerful narrative filled with emotion and struggle. The diverse storytelling perspectives added depth to the overall narrative. It's a poignant and intense portrayal of family conflicts, differing political views, and profound loss set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. The inclusion of family members on opposing sides of the conflict added complexity to the story. The language used is remarkably straightforward yet potent. The storytelling is so seamless that you find yourself fully immersed in the unfolding events. I have a deep appreciation for both of the author's works, namely "Child Dust" and "The Mountains Sing." I'm an admirer of her distinctive writing style. If you're seeking a distinctive read from your usual fare, I highly recommend this book.
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