From the author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Monkey Bridge comes The Lotus and the Storm, another look at the Vietnam War and its aftermath, this time from the alternating perspectives of Mai, a law librarian in the D.C. area, and her father Minh, a former commander in the South Vietnamese army.
The book opens with a carefree, tranquil picture of 5-year-old Mai’s world – her elegant mother, affectionate father and adored older sister – all embraced within the walls of the family’s lush French colonial style villa in Cholon, Saigon’s sister city, in 1963. To Mai, war seems far away, despite her father’s “satiny eggplant color” and “boots, muddied and nicked” after months away. It is when we are jarred into the more recent present of Minh that we realize those halcyon days will indeed have been shattered by unspeakable loss and tragedy.
With many parallels to author Lan Cao’s own personal story, as well as that of her father – relatives on opposite sides of a civil war, the death of a sibling, political intrigue and near-death escapes, the long-term devastating effects of war – The Lotus and the Storm is an important piece of the Vietnam War story.
Details Hardcover, $27.95, penguin.com.