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.”
Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is considered one of the first successful women novelists in Latin America. She is the author of eight novels, a collection of stories, three memoirs and a trilogy of children’s books. She writes in the style of “magical realism.” Allende’s works have been translated into more than 27 languages and have become bestsellers across four continents. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
According to one review, “The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.” The novel tells the tale of Chile’s 20th-century history through three generations of the fictional Trueba family.
Our discussion will probably be in late January. Happy reading!