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Memory is Another Country


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"A compelling and exquisitely written book. We learn from the narratives of Vietnamese women who recount memories of war and exodus about a collective vernacular history that is missing from official accounts. Women become custodians of suppressed and silenced stories in families and nations. Their personal narratives are eloquent and moving to read, bringing the past to life and supplying the detail and specificity that is a hallmark of narrative. Nguyen's meticulous research and literary gifts provide a model for future narrative scholars: she sensitively comments on moments where stories in families converge and diverge, examines the close relationship between content (what is said) and form (how a story is structured), and she charts a course for contemporary theory about memory, narrative and trauma. I loved every page of this stunning book." -- Catherine Kohler Riessman, Research Professor of Sociology, Boston College and Emerita Professor, Boston University "This path-breaking study not only gives a public voice to Vietnamese women who fled their homeland following the fall of Saigon in 1975, but explores the extraordinary resilience of the human condition amid the disrupture of war and the displacement of migration. Leading cultural scholar Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen examines the histories of women of the Vietnamese diaspora with unusual empathy, and her analysis of their many experiences - as mothers, daughters, workers and even soldiers - is nuanced and rich. Nguyen reminds us that the act of remembering serves to keep the past in the present, mediating personal and collective loss and suffering and empowering Vietnamese women as they have forged their new lives in another country. Compelling and reflective, I recommend this important book as essential reading for anyone interested in the processes of migration and memory more broadly, and in the Vietnamese diaspora in particular." -- Kate Darian-Smith, Professor of Australian Studies and History, the University of Melbourne

About the Author

Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen holds an ARC Australian Research Fellowship at the Australian Centre, School of Historical Studies, University of Melbourne. She was shortlisted for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award for Voyage of Hope: Vietnamese Australian Women's Narratives (2005).


"Nguyen makes a brilliant contribution to the third wave of scholarship...Her focus on women is valuable...pathbreaking book...Essential. All levels/libraries." - Choice
"Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen's book fills an important gap in current scholarship on South Vietnamese women's experiences during war and in diaspora. . . . The personal stories of the women interviewed are vividly narrated and rich in detail. . . . The stories recounted here are an important part of modern Vietnamese history. History often privileges victors. After the South's defeat in 1975, pro-South Vietnamese women's stories have been rarely heard, and they deserve to be. Nguyen's book fills the void and in so doing enriches the existing scholarship on memory, trauma, and diaspora." - American Historical Review
"The 'living history' that this book represents is a beautifully realized portrait of ordinary women who were forced into extraordinary lives." - Reference & Research Book News
"Similar in style to Jung Chang's enthralling accounts of revolutionary China (Wild Swans: three daughters of China, 1991), this book revisits the final days of the American war through the eyes of Vietnamese women. The stories are deeply personal, compelling, and eloquently retold." - Ohio University Libraries Southeast Asia Collection Blog
"Nguyen's very accessible and engaging work will be of interest to both an academic audience of students and scholars and the broader audience with an interest in women's studies, ethnic studies, refugee studies, and Asian-American studies." - MultiCultural Review
"This is a poignant and beautifully presented work about a community most Australians have lived alongside for decades... Reading it should jolt us out of our complacency." - Australian Book Review
"One of the strengths of this collection is that the women all had different experiences that they reacted to differently. Therefore, while loss, devastation and grief can't be escaped as a common theme, the women do not blend into archetypes. The chapters begin with loss, symbolized by the family photographs that were lost or destroyed. The difference in the recollections of two sisters who shared the same traumas is particularly interesting. Other chapters focus on female soldiers, war memories, intermarriage outside the culture, both before and after leaving Viet Nam and the reactions of those who returned to visit as well as those who refused to do so. The 'living history' that this book represents is a beautifully realized portrait of ordinary women who were forced into extraordinary lives." - Book News
" Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen offers compelling first-person accounts by women who fled Vietnam in 1975." - The VVA Veteran

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