The summer selection for our bookclub is Behind the Red Mist, a book of short stories by Vietnamese writer Ho Anh Thai, published in 1998. One of the most important writers of Vietnam’s postwar generation, Ho Anh Thai brings an intimate knowledge of the Vietnam War into perspective with a style that is whimsical as well as sharp-sighted.
According to the description on Amazon.com: “In this first collection to be published in English, the characters range from a party official who turns into a goat while watching porno movies, to an Indian who carries his mother’s bones in his knapsack, to a war widow trying desperately to piece together her life through the fragments of debris she collects from her back yard. The title novella Behind the Red Mist is a Vietnamese Back To the Future, a social satire in which a young man in the Hanoi of the eighties receives an electric shock and is transported back to his same apartment block in 1967 wartime Vietnam during the American bombing. He not only witnesses the war with the eyes of someone who knows its outcome, but participates in his parents’ courtship and discovers some truths about the generation held up to his own as a role model.”