Author: Bao Ninh
Translator: Jae-Hong Ha
350 pages | 223*152mm
|Important! Please read before you order!
|>>>This book is written in Korean only.
About This Book
Kien, the protagonist of this rambling and sometimes nearly incoherent but
emotionally gripping account of the Vietnam war, is a 10-year veteran whose
experiences bear a striking similarity to those of the author, a Hanoi writer
who fought with the Glorious 27th Youth Brigade. The novel opens just after the
war, with Kien working in a unit that recovers soldiers' corpses. Revisiting the
sites of battles raises emotional ghosts for him, "a parade of horrific
memories" that threatens his sanity, and he finds that writing about those years
is the only way to purge them. Juxtaposing battle scenes with dreams and
childhood remembrances as well as events in Kien's postwar life, the book builds
to a climax of brutality. A trip to the front with Kien's childhood sweetheart
ends with her noble act of sacrifice, and it becomes clear to the reader that,
in Vietnam, purity and innocence exist only to be besmirched. Covering some of
the same physical and thematic terrain as Novel Without a Name (see above), The
Sorrow of War is often as chaotic in construction as the events it describes. In
fact, it is untidy and uncontrolled, like the battlefield it conveys. The point
of view slips willy-nilly from the third person to the first, without any clear
semblance of organization. The inclusion of a deaf mute who falls for Kien, and
acts for a while as a witness to his life, seems gratuitous. The faults of this
book are also its strengths, however. Its raggedness aptly evokes the narrator's
feverish view of a dangerous and unpredictable world. And its language possesses
a ferocity of expression that strikes the reader with all the subtlety of a
gut-punch. Polishing this rough jewel would, strangely, make it less precious.
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