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Paul Christiansen

in Loạt Soạt

Saigoneer Bookshelf: Americana Through a Vietnamese Lens in 'Butterfly Yellow'

“Read what you don’t know because if you can already imagine it, then you can already imagine it; but if you can’t, then open up something that reveals a world you can’t imagine and then suddenly you’...

Paul Christiansen

in Loạt Soạt

Saigoneer Bookshelf: Direct Routes to Whimsy in 'Ticket to Childhood'

Children can “hear the music and see the colors of letters on a page — magic portals to a wilderness without fixed meanings… all adults see are the neat rows of black lines, the building blocks of def...

Paul Christiansen

in Loạt Soạt

Saigoneer Bookshelf: Serious Play with Poet Duy Doan

A lion cub’s tussling, teething and roughhousing represents not simply play for play’s sake, but instead, training for a life of stalking, pouncing and throat-gashing; and so it might be with the poem...

Thi Nguyen

in Loạt Soạt

Saigoneer Bookshelf: Revisiting 'Dumb Luck' by Vu Trong Phung

Published in 1938, Dumb Luck, or Số Đỏ, remains one of Vietnam's most popular and controversial novels. Vu Trong Phung was fined by the French colonial administration in Hanoi in 1932 for his stark po...

Paul Christiansen

in Loạt Soạt

Saigoneer Bookshelf: Multitudes Contained in 'Red Thread' by Teresa Mei Chuc

Seeking, sucking, tonguing for each scrap of contained marrow: should a book of poetry labor over a single topic the way a mouth savors a soup bone? Or should it be akin to a buffet plate atop which t...

Paul Christiansen

in Loạt Soạt

Saigoneer Bookshelf: A Touch of Magical Realism in 'The Cemetery of Chua Village'

Vietnam transitioned to a market economy like an old train lurching to life: momentous shakes and shudders, steam bursting out busted gaskets, disheveled cargo tumbling from luggage racks, sparks shoo...