Thursday 27 April 2023

#Blogtour Dust Child by Nguyễn Phan Quế Ma

It's a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour Dust Child by Nguyễn Phan Quế Ma. 'The eagerly awaited new novel from the internationally bestselling author of The Mountains Sing.'

About the Author

Nguyễn Phan Quế Ma is an award-winning Vietnamese poet and novelist. Born in the Red Delta of Northern Việt Nam, she grew up in the Mekong Delta, Southern Việt Nam. She is a writer and translator who has published eight books of poetry, short stories and non-fiction in Vietnamese. Her debut novel and first book in English, The Mountains Sing, is an international bestseller, runner-up for the 2021 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and winner of the 2021 PEN Oakland/ Josephine Miles Literary Award, the 2020 Lannan Literary Award Fellowship, and others, and has been translated into fifteen languages. 

She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and her writing has appeared in various publications including the New York Times. Quế Mai was named by Forbes Vietnam as one of the twenty most inspiring women of 2021. Dust Child is inspired by her many years working as a volunteer helping family members unite, and reflects the real-life experiences of Amerasians and their family members. Visit or follow @nguyen_p_quemai on Twitter

About the book

During the Việt Nam War, tens of thousands of children were born into relationships between American soldiers and Việtnamese women. Tragic circumstances separated most of these Amerasian children from their parents. Many have not found each other again…

In 1969, two sisters from rural Việt Nam leave their parents’ home to find work in Sài Gòn. Caught up in the war that is blazing through their country they, like many other young Việtnamese women, are employed as hostesses in a bar frequented by American GIs. Soon they are forced to accept that their own survival, and that of their family back home, might mean compromising the values they have always held dear. As the fighting moves closer to the city, the elder sister, Trang, begins a romance with a young American helicopter pilot.

Decades later, two men wander the streets and marketplaces of modern Sài Gòn. Phong is a ‘Dust Child’ – the son of a Black American soldier and a Vietnamese woman, abandoned by his mother and ostracized all his life – and is looking for his parents and through them a way out of Việt Nam. Meanwhile war veteran Dan returns with his wife Linda, hoping to ease the PTSD that has plagued him for decades. Neither of them can escape the shadow of decisions made during a time of desperation.

With the same compassion and insight that has made The Mountains Sing a favourite of readers across the world, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai brings to life the interwoven stories of these four unforgettable characters, and asks what it takes to move forward


The author captures the feeling these children have, or in this case Phong, of living in a space of neither here nor there. Never accepted by the people of of his home country and treated as if he was personally responsible for the past. His appearance a constant reminder of the Americans who left and never looked back.

Simultaneously the trauma and PTSD the American GI's experience is described with a calm intensity and never with an atmosphere of deserved guilt. As a reader you can feel empathy for any of the main characters without delving too far into the right or wrong of the political skirmish. Instead the author allows for the scenario of each as victim of circumstance merely trying to survive the horror of war.

Infused with an almost trademark sense of compassion, clarity and understanding, the story reminds us of not only the trauma, but also of the ripple these events create in the time. The aftermath, which consumes innocent children who by no fault of their own became unwanted  items in the packing area. With no possible avenue to trace parents who didn't want them or were unable to raise them.

Imagine living in a Catch 22, where you are clearly discriminated against because of your connection to an American parent and yet are unable to fulfil the requirements to leave the country that has never wanted you in the first place.

It's a story that comprehends the fact that life is imperfect, ergo there isn't always a perfect ending or resolution. Equally that there can never be any real restitution for a lifetime of rejection or real peace for the those involved in vicious wartime conflicts. It's a great read.

Buy Dust Child at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Published by ONEWORLD | pub date 20 April 2023 | Hardback | £16.99. Buy at Amazon com.

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