Thursday, March 16, 2023

 The Afterlife of a Threadbare Jester

Winner of The Red Hen Press Fiction Award 2022


“Centering on a Vietnamese intelligence officer's years-long ordeal in communist reformation camps, The Afterlife of a Threadbare Jester offers a heartrending and an illuminating look at the Vietnam War and its aftermath. War, literature, religion, politics, loyalty—they are all expertly interrogated through the protagonist's compelling voice and the memorable cast of characters he encounters. Despite the struggle and suffering, the story never veers into the sentimental or cynical. Instead it returns, again and again, to the complexities of the human heart and its will to endure. A moving, unforgettable, and enlightening must-read.”Award Citation

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Her: The Flame Tree

Winner of The Gival Press Novel Award 2022


“A beautiful book: extraordinary writing, interesting characters and a fascinating depiction of Vietnam’s history.”
—Washington Writers’ Publishing House

 (Forthcoming in October 2023)

Thursday, August 11, 2022


All the Rivers Flow into the Sea & Other Stories

While reading this outstanding collection of stories, I couldn't help being overcome by the mysteries of contrast. Dark versus light, rich versus poor, East versus West, life versus death, heartbreaking sorrow against breathtaking beauty. No two stories are the same and yet the human condition is universal. In the minutiae of life can be found the most profound sadness and the most buoyant life.

Such are the writings of this author. Having read his other story collections, I know I'm going to run the gamut of every emotion of the human condition it is possible to feel. That's what makes him such an astounding writer. You can only stand in awe of such masterful prose.

“Poling oars at rest crisscrossed one another, soaring from the water in pale blue ripples as blue as cooking smoke, thinly drifting, that palled the river.”A whirlwind of a book that will leave you breathless, All the Rivers Flow Into the Sea, by Khanh Ha is the kind of collection that short story lovers dream about. This is an absolutely beautiful piece of literature that should be thought of as a modern classic.Goodreads

“In the ash-blue twilight beyond the clearing where bushes grew wild, she saw humps of graves plagued by needle grass and false daisy. The white, small flowers glimmered.” Set mostly in Vietnam, All The Rivers Flow Into The Sea, is a book of short stories by the very talented, award-winning author, Khanh Ha. These stories build as you read through them, ending in the title story about a young couple from different worlds who fight the odds to be together. Picturesque and poignant, these short stories have everything that a reader could want. You will find yourself not only tearing up at times but also bursting into laughter and maybe even fits of anger as you read through this one-of-a-kind book.Goodreads


 A Mother's Tale & Other Stories

Winner of the 2020 C&R Press Award in Fiction

A 2021 Foreword Reviews INDIES Bronze Winner

What a heartbreakingly beautiful, yet achingly sad and thought-provoking collection of stories this was. These images and the graphic depiction of life throughout Vietnam, in good times, bad times, simple and complex, will stay with me for a long time to come. 

This mesmerizing collection will dig into your bones, will permeate your thoughts and will cause you to reflect on all the tragedies and injustices in the world. Because they did happen, they'e happening still and they'll always continue to happen. This is a real tour de force from an author I won't ever forget.--Donna Thompson (Goodreads)

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Mrs. Rossi's Dream

Booklist Starred Review

Starred Review

Catherine Rossi's dream, in 1987, is to find the remains of her son, Lieutenant Nicola Rossi, the only American unaccounted for after a deadly firefight in Vietnam in 1967. So she travels to the Mekong Delta with her daughter, Chi Lan, 18, adopted from a Catholic Vietnamese orphanage when she was five. At the small inn where the Rossis stay, employee Le Giang believes Mrs. Rossi's quest is highly unlikely to be fulfilled, but he comes to treasure the companionship of Chi Lan. The narration alternates between the voices of Lieutenant Rossi in 1967 and Le Giang, in the present of 1987, a man born and conscripted in the north who defected to the army of the south, then was imprisoned for "reeducation" in the north for 10 years. Both men describe the horrors and deprivations of war, along with the bonds of fellowship forged, as well as the natural beauty and dangers of the country, on the way to a healing climax. Ha's prose is so clear and vivid, whether describing a dying soldier's wounds or local flora and fauna, and his message is so powerfully understated that this beautifully written novel should have a place alongside the best fiction of the Vietnam War.Booklist 
A powerful story of both the human damage of war and the the power of healing and reconciliation through forgiveness. The author shifts between the points of view of the Vietnamese and the American characters, both during the war and in its sad aftermath, in such a richly imagined, three-dimensional way that each character--from the different sides of the war, and from two very different cultures, becomes fully human to the reader--which reinforces the way the characters either diminish their own humanity by dehumanizing others, or--along with the reader--discover each others' humanity and learn to mourn its loss or gain its gifts. Along with all that I deeply admire the writing itself: the way the author describes the beauty of the country, which, as with the human characters we get to know so intimately, makes its destruction so terrible, and, in particular, the way he describes foods: the different foods, the way they look, smell, are prepared, taste--food, its absence or its sustaining power, so central to Vietnamese culture and life, becomes a character itself in the novel. It was a pleasure to discover this writer and his work.Wayne Karlin