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Novel Without a Name

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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  869 ratings  ·  85 reviews
A piercing, unforgettable tale of the horror and spiritual weariness of war, Novel Without a Name will shatter every preconception Americans have about what happened in the jungles of Vietnam. With Duong Thu Huong, whose Paradise of the Blind was published to high critical acclaim in 1993, Vietnam has found a voice both lyrical and stark, powerful enough to capture the con ...more
Paperback, 289 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by Penguin Books (first published 1991)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  869 ratings  ·  85 reviews


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Aubrey
Lovesick doves cooed all day in the bamboo. Grasshoppers flew in the grass on the edge of the dikes. Women laughed, teasing and chasing one another, rolling in the rice fields. They made us laugh...There was once a kite that dipped and swayed in the blue of the sky, our dreams reeling in the same space...And there is the earth, this mud where the flesh rots, where eyes decompose. These arms, these legs that crunch in the jaws of the boars. The souls ulcerated and foul from killing, the bodies s
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Zanna
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Zanna by: Aubrey
We might look at it this way: one of the areas of life from which female voices are sorely absent is the war front. There are relatively few soldierly memoirs, fictionalised or otherwise, by women. Duong Thu Huong fought in the war she describes, yet she chooses to take the perspective of a man, Quan, who is living in the blur of transitions from young to middle-aged, from idealism to disillusionment through the dark tunnel of a long, grinding conflict.

Initially I was disappointed by her decisio
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Jimmy
I don't think I've ever read a war novel, other than The Red Badge of Courage, and that was only because it was required reading for school. It simply does not interest me. But here I thought I'd give this one a chance, since it was written by a Vietnamese woman, i.e. not your typical war novel writer.
“All [Hoang] had left was one arm, one leg, and a diary filled with gilded dreams. I remember ripping the [Communist] Party newspaper into shreds and throwing them into a stream. I never told anyon
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Nick
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The war for national unification--one hesitates to call it liberation, since the bulk of the novel takes place after the Americans have withdrawn--narrated by a Northern veteran. Quan, having enlisted as a patriotic eighteen year old, reflects on the changes that ten years of war and violence has inflicted on his country and his life. He finds many of the same issues that the American soldiers experienced during their service and after their return: a self-serving command structure blinded by id ...more
Sentimental Surrealist
We've all, I'm sure, seen plenty of anti-Vietnam movies - Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, The Deer Hunter. But how many of us have experienced a piece of art that told Vietnam's story from the Vietnamese perspective? Duong Thu Huong seeks to give the country a voice with this novel, and oh does she succeed in the most horrifying way imaginable.

This novel is often compared with All Quiet on the Western Front, and like that novel, this is a largely unstructured and plotless novel, to f
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Andrew
Why I think this might be the finest piece of Vietnam War fiction I've ever read, even better than the fine accounts given by Tim O'Brien and Bao Ninh, and a ready rival to that of Denis Johnson.

Most American art tends to describe the Vietnam War in gruff plainspeak (The Things They Carried, The Deer Hunter) or fractured psychedelia (Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Tree of Smoke), Vietnamese writers take a different tack altogether. Vietnam might have been the war that signaled the end of Ame
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Valkyrie Vu
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Nhưng mà, nhân dân lúc có thật, lúc như bóng ma: Nếu cần lúa, nhân dân là con bò kéo cày. Lúc có chiến tranh, con bò ấy mặc áo giáp và cầm súng. Rồi, khi mọi sự đã qua, vào những ngày lễ lạt, hội hè... người ta tôn xưng nhân dân như hú vọng các hồn ma, tưởng thưởng cho khói thơm và tro tiền, còn phần xôi thịt thì kẻ khác hưởng..."

Bình thường ngại đọc lịch sử và tránh chính trị như tránh tà . Nhưng đọc cuốn này được dăm trang thì bập vào ngay . Bập vào rồi mới thấy khó đọc quá . Mất mát , toàn
...more
Windy hapsari
Jun 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
i cant say this is my review, its more like my comment. this book is my favourite book, about the vietnam war, about how the vietnamnesse face the war. I read this book is like a thousand time. but i never get bored.
I always have negative opinion about army or soldier, but maybe in the war situation those soldier return to their main function. to defend their country, to be the savior.
Ronald Morton
How proud we were of our youth! Ten years ago, the day we left for the front, I had never imagined this. All we had wanted was to be able to sing songs of glory. Who cared about mortars, machine guns, mines, bayonets, daggers? Anything was good for killing, as long as it brought us glory We pulled the trigger, we shot, we hacked away, intoxicated by hatred; we demanded equality with our hatred.
The primary events of this novel take place in the last year of the conflict between North and South V
...more
Addy
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended
Most of the war novels I have read have been written from an American perspective. The ability to explore a non-American view of the Vietnam war was something I didn't want to pass up.

Reading Novel Without a Name was like walking through a dream. The world the author crafted was so surreally beautiful, and yet undeniably haunting. Many of the evocative images will stay with me; the soldiers sleeping in coffins to avoid tigers for example. Though described in lilting, lovely detail by
...more
5greenway
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yotl
Pretty harrowing stuff from start to finish. The more lyrical passages are pretty disorienting, the way they dovetail with all the brutality and disillusionment.
nanto
Buku ini, adalah kisah perjuangan bangsa Vietnam ketika mereka masih terbelah dalam dua negara. Amerika begitu berperan dalam membantu bagian selatan negeri ini, buku ini adalah sudut pandang pejuang dari utara.

Berbicara mengenai cerita perjuangan, buku ini cukup menarik. Vietnam memiliki kesamaan strategic culture dengan Indonesia. Bukan saja mereka pernah mengusir penjajahnya dengan kekuatan senjata, tetapi mereka mengembangkan taktik tempur yang membuat setiap pertempuran adalah medan berat b
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Heather
Apr 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dương Thu Hương wrote about Vietnam from an experiential pov, having lived through war herself. The images she invokes are both incredibly beautiful and terribly horrible. These are captured in brief sentences and short paragraphs, frequently alternating between these two poles so that there is not an over-emphasis on one or another image, and instead a visceral blending occurs. So that,
Even silk has a rough side.


to put it very mildly.

Many aspects of war are covered in, “Novel Without a Nam
...more
Frances Kuffel
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Set in Vietnam in 1975, on the verge of South Vietnam's capitulation to the north, Novel Without a Name is narrated by a North Vietnamese soldier who has been fighting for ten years. His round-trip journey to the north and back to the front for the final push, on his first leave, is both a love song of the country and its pre-colonial history, and an indictment of what the war has wrought on the people Quan has known or meets: his best friend's humiliation that after ten years he is still a serg ...more
Joan Colby
Sep 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Told from the perspective of a North Vietnamese soldier, this novel provides a very different view of the conflict. The people disdainfully referred to as gooks in Matterhorn are revealed as human beings: sensitive, callous, conflicted, corrupt, caring. Duong Thus Huong was a leader of a volunteer collective during the war and was one of just three (out of 40) to survive. While she is a woman, Novel Without a Name is told from a male perspective. Duong Thus Huong’s books were highly praised, but ...more
Bernie Gourley
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers of fiction -- especially those who enjoy translated fiction.
This novel’s protagonist, Quan, is a North Vietnamese soldier who, after ten years of war-fighting and surviving, has worked his way up to a junior officer position with a small unit under his command. Much of the story describes a road trip in the midst of war. One of Quan’s childhood friends who is now his superior officer, Luong, assigns Quan the task of going to visit a distant medical unit to check on a third common village friend, Bien, who is said to have had a nervous breakdown. Luong, f ...more
Eve
A novel about the Vietnam War from the point of view of a Vietnamese soldier. Although the war is all around, most of the novel is about its secondary effects -- the loss of young men, the damage to families and communities, the damage to the moral fabric of society. When a battle happens, it's over in just a few sentences unlike every other novel I've ever read about war. The author does not dwell on what happens in the battles; she's more concerned about the aftereffects and the other things g ...more
Ellie Dottie
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Had I reviewed this right after I read it I would probably have given it three stars, because this book is less plot heavy and I didn't have a feeling of being completely sucked into the story, but as I get further away from this book I like it more and more. The story and the main character has stayed with me and I feel myself coming back to this book again and again in both conversation and in my mind.
Marisa
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really just don't know about this book. I really enjoyed the image and the pace was good but there's just so much in it to unpack. Definitely gotta have a highlighter at hand!

I liked I really did but it left me with more questions then answers in the end.
John
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Vietnam veterans
Very interesting and moving account of a monumental tragedy.
Christelle
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
The tragedy of war as seen by a young vietcong.
Jon
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting in the beginning, but then it slows for quite some time until the last 70 pages or so. A neat read.
Angel
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
had me tearing up within the first few pages...
Grace
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite of all Duong Thu Huong's works. Sparse, haunting imagery, this is a beautifully crafted, morally complex tale that has stayed with me for years since I've read it.
Amanda
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Most idealisms falter. I wondered about the translation and how things unraveled during the coffin scene. Not sure what happened to Bien/ how his path went.
Mel
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Authentic and vivid imageries of war time Vietnam.
Ryan Curry
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Had to read this for a class. Interesting.
Francisco Acevedo
Interesante leer algo sobre la guerra de Vietnam desde el punto de vista de un soldado vietnamita. Tiene la misma onda que All Quiet on the Western Front, o sea, más que un libro de guerra es un libro de anti-guerra donde se muestra lo ilógico que puede ser iniciar o continuar ese tipo de conflictos. Buena escritora, seguro seguiré leyendo algo de ella.
Andrew
Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a grim book, a book about war and the effect constant fighting has on one person, a fighter in the North Vietnamese army. Novel Without a Name by Duong Thu Houng is a book about Quan's disillusionment, not only with the political institutions and propagandas perpetuated by them, but with everyone around him...maybe even in himself.

While Americans are the enemy in the book, it is universal. How young men fight the wars that old men start, and how wily politicians make money off the misery
...more
William Kirkland
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
As it happens I’ve been thinking about war and its representation in fiction for many months, absorbing novels about WW I, written during, shortly after, and decades after the event. Not one opened with the power of Novel Without a NameNovel Without A Name.

“I listened all night to the wind howl through the Gorge of Lost Souls. Endless moans punctuated by sobs. From time to time it whinnied like a mare in heat, whistling through the broken shafts of the bamboo roof above me, sweeping through the
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2015: The Year of...: Novel Without a Name by Dương Thu Hương 9 27 Jul 27, 2015 03:20PM  
  • The Sorrow Of War: A Novel of North Vietnam
  • Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora
  • The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars
  • Vietnam: The Australian War
  • The General Retires and Other Stories
  • A Vietcong Memoir: An Inside Account of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath
  • The Tale of Kieu
  • Spring Essence: The Poetry of Hô Xuân Huong
  • The Tapestries
  • The Pillow Boy of the Lady Onogoro
  • Dien Cai Dau
  • The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990
  • Reporting Vietnam: American Journalism 1959-1975
  • Paco's Story
  • Monkey Bridge
  • Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975
  • Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram
  • Gods Go Begging
Dương Thu Hương (b. 1947) is a Vietnamese author and political dissident. Formerly a member of Vietnam's communist party, she was expelled from the party in 1989, and has been denied the right to travel abroad, and was temporarily imprisoned for her writings and outspoken criticism of corruption in the Vietnamese government.

Born in 1947 in Thai Binh a province in northern Vietnam, Dương came of ag
...more