peteg's blog - noise - books - 2011 08 01 LinhDinh NightAgain

Linh Dinh: Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam

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Argue with a smart man,
Can't win.
Argue with a stupid man,
Can't stop.

— Vietnamese proverb

This is a high-quality collection of contemporary (1990s) Vietnamese short stories that I scraped from the ANU Menzies Library months ago. Linh Dinh is responsible not only for anthologising these but also for many of the translations. His overly-brief introduction provides an account of the authors and the situation in Vietnam, đổi mới and so forth. I wish it had been longer.


  • A Marker on the Side of the Boat is another war story from Bảo Ninh (translated by Linh Dinh).
  • Nguyễn Huy Thiệp's Without a King (translated by Linh Dinh), a tale of a lone woman in a household of five sons and a widower.
  • Scenes from an Alley by Lê Minh Khuê (translated by Bắc Hoài Trân and Dana Sachs) juxtaposes rising affluence and crassness of Westerner expat consumption.
  • A Stagnant Water Place by Thế Giang (translated by Cường Nguyễn) is a fly-on-the-brothel-wall.
  • Nine Down Makes Ten by Phạm Thị Hoài (translated by Peter Zinoman, up to his usual standard), tells of a woman's men.
  • In the Recovery Room by Mai Kim Ngọc (translated by Nguyễn Quí Đức) is an old man recounting his sex life to his son-in-law.
  • Đỗ Kh.'s The Pre-War Atmosphere is the most exotic of these stories, mixing the Vietnamese and the Lebanese in Orange County.

Near as I can tell the passion for translating Vietnamese literature has passed, apart from the odd angry shot.