From ‘Cabramatta’ by Matt Huynh, originally published in The Believer (2019). Reproduced with permission.
Over the years I’ve amassed many books by writers from Vietnam as well as the Việt Kiều diaspora – but I can’t claim these tomes spark joy. I can’t bear to get rid of them yet can’t bear the thought of reading most of them either. The Boat by Nam Le, for example, is one such albatross. When it was first published, and in the years after, I was often asked if I’d read it. My ready response was usually along the lines of no, but I own a copy. Whenever I’ve contemplated cracking the book open I recall it includes a short story called ‘Love and Honour and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice’, which sounds far too much like a word association exercise in intergenerational trauma...
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