'Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai will win many more readers with her powerful and deeply empathetic second novel. From the horrors of war and its enduring after life for men and women, lovers and children, soldiers and civilians, she weaves a heartbreaking tale of lost ideals, human devotion, and hard-won redemption. Dust Child establishes Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai as one of our finest observers of the devastating consequences of war, and proves, once more, her ability to captivate readers and lure them into Việt Nam’s rich and poignant history.'
Dust ChildNguyễn Phan Quế Mai
‘Dazzling. Sharply drawn and hauntingly beautiful.’ Elif Shafak, Women’s Prize-shortlisted author of The Island of Missing Trees
In 1969, two sisters from rural Việt Nam leave their parents’ home and travel to the bustling city of Sài Gòn. Soon their lives are swept up in the unstoppable flames of a war that is blazing through their country. They begin working as ‘bar girls’ in one of the drinking dens frequented by American GIs, forced to accept that survival now might mean compromising the values they once clung to.
Decades later, two men wander through the streets and marketplaces of a very different Sài Gòn: modern, forward-looking, healing. But neither of these men can escape the shadow of decisions made by themselves and others during a time of war.
Through the interwoven stories of these four unforgettable characters, Dust Child exposes the devastating legacy of conflict, and asks what it takes to move forward. Heartfelt, suspenseful and poetic, this is Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai at her very best.
'Dazzling. Sharply drawn and hauntingly beautiful.'
'Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai will win many more readers with her powerful and deeply empathetic second novel... A heartbreaking tale of lost ideals, human devotion, and hard-won redemption.'
'Once again, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai has written a beautiful novel that shines a light on the history of Vietnam... Dust Child is simply stunning.'
'A heartbreaking, beautifully told, utterly unique story of love, loss, and longing that speaks to the very heart of the human experience.'
'Quế Mai shows us the capacity we hold to confront our pasts, for the purpose of life is not to remain intact, but to break open, to let loss be a guide, to face the echoes of longing. In Dust Child, rupture leads to emotional richness and pain creates the pathways worth walking. I truly cannot wait for the rest of the world to celebrate this book.'
'Well-researched, realistic, and compassionately written... This eye-opening and fascinating novel is a must-read!'
'Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is one of the most unique storytellers of our time... She creates plots which are Dickensian in their breadth and mastery, while bravely probing the complex emotional challenges of living in a modern world full of disruption and displacement.'
'A powerful and moving story, brilliantly told.'
'This novel stands out with its complexity and empathy toward Vietnamese and American peoples involved in the Việt Nam War... Once I started reading, I could not put the book down.'
'Riveting... Nguyễn creates, in her luminous prose, a gripping and nuanced narrative of men and women caught in the web of war and its aftermath.'
'With great compassion, with a firm conviction in the redeeming power of love and forgiveness, and with the consummate skill of a great story-teller, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai weaves us into the lives, past and present, of those called "the dust of life"—the ostracized, mixed-race children of American soldiers; their mothers, compelled by war into prostitution, and their fathers, the G.I.'s who abandoned them and yet remained haunted by them.'