The Other Side of Heaven: Postwar Fiction by Vietnamese and American Writers
Wayne Karlin, Minh Khuê Lê, Vu Truong
Curbstone Press, 1995 - Fiction - 411 pages
Just as the remaining trade sanctions against Vietnam are being lifted comes "The Other Side of Heaven," a collection of short stories by American and Vietnamese writers about the Vietnam War (or the 'American War, ' depending on who is speaking). 'This book was born out of the meeting of two people who, if they had met two decades previously, ' writes Karlin in his introduction, 'would have tried to kill each other.' Stunning in both scope and content, this collection strips away the uniforms and propaganda to reveal the fearful, nave peoples of both sides engulfed in a war with consequences neither could imagine. Soldiers, villagers, spies, assassins, men, women, children and the dead speak their piece in stories grouped by varied facets of the war and its aftermath (Hauntings, Exiles, Legacies, etc.), with each entry original in its interpretation but interchangeable in the vividness of its pain and horror. Though many contributions are noteworthy, six are outstanding: Bao Ninh's 'Wandering Souls, ' Xuan Thieu's 'Please Don't Knock on the Door, ' Nguyen Quang Lap's 'The Sound of Harness Bells, ' David McLean's 'Marine Corps Issue, ' and Tim O'Brien's 'Speaking of Courage.' The message of this monumental book is summed up in George Evans's 'A Walk in the Garden of Heaven, ' which runs through the book like a current, a piece of it opening each section: 'We've destroyed too much to be sentimental... Wars are always lost. Even if you win.' Clearly, it is the fervent hope of the authors and editors united in "The Other Side of Heaven" that readers of all nationalities will understand.-"Publishers Weekly"
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