Arianna Rebolini reviews The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen and lists it in Buzzfeed‘s 24 Best Fictions Books of 2017.
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s stunning short story collection is largely about exile and its aftermath. The stories explore what it is to be a refugee — what “refuge” quite literally looks like for those who have experienced trauma — especially, though not specifically, for Vietnamese citizens forced from their homes. There’s the 18-year-old Liem who’s welcomed by a gay immigrant couple in ’70s California, the ghostwriter who can’t stop telling the stories of the dead, the father whose grown daughter moves to Saigon — a place he’s only “visited” when dropping bombs on it. Each refuge(e) is haunted by memory of trauma, either experienced or inherited, and Nguyen’s stories are testaments to the power of endurance. —AR