peteg's blog - noise - books - 2011 10 07 NguyenHuyThiep CrossingTheRiver

Nguyễn Huy Thiệp: Crossing the River

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Another excellent collection of short stories from Curbstone Press that I was fortunate enough to extract from the ANU Menzies Library. The translations by Dana Sachs are fantastic. I skipped the ones I'd read before, which may indeed have been the best:

  • Crossing the river
  • The general retires
  • Without a king
  • Salt of the jungle
  • Fired gold
  • Life's so fun
  • Remembrance of the countryside
I did read:
  • Lessons from the countryside
  • My Uncle Hoat
  • The winds of Hua Tat: Ten stories in a small mountain village
  • A drop of blood
  • A sharp sword
  • Chastity
  • Rain
  • Love story told on a rainy night

    Thiệp spent some of his life in the mountains north-west of Hà Nội, and this story covers some of the same ground as Balaban did perhaps twenty years earlier: the Golden triangle, opium smuggling, customs officers and so forth.

    "What do you know about love?" asked Bac Ky Sinh.

    Trieu Phu Dai sighed. "It's an unscrupulous emotion."

  • The water nymph

    This is the best account of post-1975 peasant life I've read, I think, with the poverty grinding on towards the year 2000.

  • The woodcutters

Greg Lockhart translated some of these stories more than a decade (1991) before this collection (2003). There seems to have been an argument about how to (de)classify Thiệp's work along Western lit crit lines. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.