Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Booklist Gives Nothing Ever Dies a Starred Review

Donna Seaman reviews Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War for Booklist.

Nguyen’s debut novel, The Sympathizer (2015), a complex tale of the Vietnam War, garnered the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and landed on more than two dozen best-of-the-year lists. Readers will discover the roots of Nguyen’s powerful fiction in this profoundly incisive and bracing investigation into the memory of war and how war stories are shaped and disseminated. “I was born in Vietnam but made in America,” states Nguyen, establishing the axis from which he astutely analyzes each country’s diametrically opposed experience of the war fought in his homeland and, on a universal level, the ethical aspects of who is remembered and who is forgotten. He recalibrates our perceptions of American might in his adept dissection of the “industrialization of memory” by the military-Hollywood-video-game complex that so indelibly dehumanizes the enemy and justifies and glorifies war. As Nguyen conducts deep immersions in art, film, and literature (with an invaluable look at Vietnamese and Vietnamese American works); visits war memorials in the U.S., Vietnam, and Cambodia; and illuminates the lives of Vietnamese refugees in America, he gauges the impact of creative opposition to the war machine. Ultimately, Nguyen’s lucid, arresting, and richly sourced inquiry, in the mode of Susan Sontag and W. G. Sebald, is a call for true and just stories of war and its perpetual legacy.


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