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The Gangster We Are All Looking For (2003)

by lê thị diễm thúy

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3751050,686 (3.32)12
"In 1978 six refugees - a girl, her father, and four "uncles" - are pulled from the sea to begin a new life in San Diego. In the child's imagination, the world of itchy dresses and run-down apartments is transmuted into an unearthly realm: she sees everything intensely, hears the distress calls of inanimate objects and waits for her mother to join her." "But life loses none of its strangeness when the family is reunited. As the girl grows, her matter-of-fact innocence eddies increasingly around opaque and ghostly traumas: the cataclysm that engulfed her homeland, the memory of a brother who drowned and, most inescapable, her father's hopeless rage for a father's order."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
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Sometimes a book speaks to you for reasons you don't entirely understand. You're charmed and the author can do what you wouldn't tolerate of another writer or in a another book. There is a lot of roundabout meandering here- the kind which made me curse Faulkner, yet in this case it's perfect and wonderful. The writing is good. Words feel carefully chosen and fit together well without being overdone. I'd happily read a couple pages at a time for weeks if I could restrain myself.

For all that, I love it and it gets four stars. Those four stars are for my own record and my own list. For others reading this and considering the book: it's three stars since I'm not sure whether it will go over as well.

It's a particular book for particular readers.

(It also brings Kassandra and the Wolf to mind. Another particular book, perhaps more singular. For that matter I'll put them both in the same category as how I feel when listening to The Unicorns.)



( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
A strange book. I must say, I feel that the title doesn't cover the contents of the book, although it is mentioned somewhere.
In itself the story is nice. I think it is (a bit) autobiographical, considering the author's background, but maybe I'm wrong.

It is a strange stry, but when you realize that it is being told by a child's voice and the world is seen through a child's eyes, then it starts making sense. All in all I'm glad to have read it. Interesting books that are fiction are quite rare here. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Oct 28, 2016 |
Recollections and observations of life in America through the eyes of a young Vietnamese refugee girl. She lives first with her father and four "uncles" in San Diego; later her mother joins them. All poetic description but no action, no forward motion.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
A moving and somewhat depressing story about home, cultural identity, assimilation, and cultural values. A young girl and her father come to the United States as one of many Vietnamese "boat people" in the 1970s. Her mother joins them later and the family plods from apartment to apartment trying, it seems, constantly to start a life in this foreign place. The southern California in which the family finds itself is glossy and bright, but shallow and meaningless. And the memories of home become increasingly bittersweet. ( )
  Beej415 | Sep 2, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
In Vietnamese, the word for water and the word for a nation, a country, and a homeland are one and the same: nu'o'c.
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Linda Vista, with its rows of yellow houses, is where we eventually washed to shore.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"In 1978 six refugees - a girl, her father, and four "uncles" - are pulled from the sea to begin a new life in San Diego. In the child's imagination, the world of itchy dresses and run-down apartments is transmuted into an unearthly realm: she sees everything intensely, hears the distress calls of inanimate objects and waits for her mother to join her." "But life loses none of its strangeness when the family is reunited. As the girl grows, her matter-of-fact innocence eddies increasingly around opaque and ghostly traumas: the cataclysm that engulfed her homeland, the memory of a brother who drowned and, most inescapable, her father's hopeless rage for a father's order."--BOOK JACKET.

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