Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Mountains Sing” as Want to Read:
The Mountains Sing
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Mountains Sing

by
4.53  ·  Rating details ·  365 ratings  ·  160 reviews
An epic account of Việt Nams painful 20th century history, both vast in scope and intimate in its telling . . . Moving and riveting. VIET THANH NGUYEN, author of The Sympathizer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lees Pachinko or Yaa Gyasis Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratners In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an
...more
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published March 17th 2020 by Algonquin Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Mountains Sing, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Mai Nguyễn Hi Yael, thank you very much for your interest. It really depends on the child. Id say 12-13 years old but there are some difficult scenes because…moreHi Yael, thank you very much for your interest. It really depends on the child. I’d say 12-13 years old but there are some difficult scenes because they deal with war and trauma. I hope you will read the book and decide when it is appropriate to share it with your child. Many, many thanks.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  365 ratings  ·  160 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Mountains Sing
Matt
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, vietnam-war
That night and for the next many nights, to dry my tears, Grandma opened the door of her childhood to me. Her stories scooped me up and delivered me to the hilltop of Nghe An where I could fill my lungs with the fragrance of rice fields, sink my eyes into the Lam River, and become a green dot on the Truong Son mountain range. In her stories, I tasted the sweetness of sim berries on my tongue, felt grasshoppers kicking in my hands, and slept in a hammock under a sky woven by shimmering starsI was ...more
Berit☀️✨
Gorgeous and miracle a poignant tale of resilience and heart. Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's lush and vivid storytelling transported me to Vietnam. The story spans most of 20th century Vietnam told from alternating perspectives in dual timelines from grandmother and granddaughter. 1950s Trần Diệu Lan is Born the daughter of a wealthy farmer. As a young girl she was told by a palm reader that she would live a hard life and indeed she did. From the death of her father to the great hunger to the land ...more
Thomas
I loved this book for its earnest and thoughtful rendering of Vietnam and its history. As a second generation Vietnamese American living in the United States, I did not get to learn much about my Vietnamese ancestry in the American education system. The few stories and narratives I was exposed to were often from a white or western perspective, either about a white mans perspective of the war or an account written by a white person, often both. I want to learn more about my heritage so I am ...more
Mai Nguyễn
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Dear Readers,

It took me seven years, hundreds of revisions, many sleepless nights, tears... and finally THE MOUNTAINS SING is here. I am so thankful to you - my precious Readers - for the gift of your time: time that you have spent or will spend with the Trần family in my novel.

Grandma Diệu Lan in THE MOUNTAINS SING is the grandmother I always wished for. Both my grandmothers had died before my birth and I wanted to have a grandma who would sing me lullabies, tell me the legends and tales of my
...more
Jeanette (Again)
March 18, 2020: This book is now available. My heart breaks for this author and other authors whose book tours are cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. Please do what you can to encourage and support them.

How much privation and loss and violence can one small nation endure? If you were to study the history of Vietnam in the 20th century, it would almost seem as if the fates had set out to determine the answer to that question. Most of us are familiar with the Vietnam War from the American
...more
Cindy Burnett
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book deserves all the stars and more. Beautifully and lyrically written, Nguyen Phan Que Mais English debut follows multiple generations of the Tran family against the background of Vietnams heartrending 20th century history. From the rise of the Communist government in North Vietnam to the years of conflict during the war itself, The Mountains Sing highlights the impact and cost of the events that led up to Vietnam War and the war itself on the Vietnamese people from their perspective ...more
Elle Rudy
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
A deeply moving story that spans the better part of a century, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai displays a side of Việt Nam and the Vietnamese people that western audiences havent had much exposure to. Were introduced to the Trần family through hardship and triumph alike, led by their unwavering matriarch Trần Diệu Lan. From French and Japanese occupation to both domestic and international conflict, this family is tested in ways that most of us can hardly begin to imagine.

Although quite beautiful, The
...more
Lisa
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in a split timeline, The Mountains Sing is about the survival of a family in Vietnam through famine, violence, war and hardship. Que Mai brings to life the conflict and divisions within the Tran family and their nation and helped me better understand 20th century Vietnamese history.
Ash
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of family sagas
Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Mountains Sing is a beautiful, heartbreaking novel of family, forgiveness, and perseverance by Vietnamese author Nguyen Phan Que Mai. It features a split timeline, which I usually avoid in historical fiction because so often one timeline is much better than the other(s). In this case, however, I enjoyed it. The two main timelines wove together to paint a picture of Vietnams rich culture
...more
Jennifer Blankfein
Generations of Vietnamese families impacted by the war and fighting within the country - a beautiful story of family, struggles and the love that kept them connected. ...

I have recently read wonderful books by Vietnamese authors, Ocean Vuong (On Earth Were Briefly Gorgeous) and Thannha Lai (Butterfly Yellow), and Chris Bohjalians new book (The Red Lotus) partially takes place in Vietnam. Each of those books pieces together for readers how beautiful the country is and how deeply rooted the people
...more
Nursebookie
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I read this book, I was right away transported to the dense highlands and the lush tropical lowlands of Vietnam. Nguyens writing enveloped me into the lives of the characters who have experienced harrowing struggles and sufferings, as well as surviving triumphantly against all odds. This is an engrossing story told in the eyes of two generations of a family who have lived through horrific cruelty and hate brought upon by war. Inspired by real life events, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai told a very ...more
Jill
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writer Nguyen Phan Que Maiherself a poetquotes fellow poet Phung Quan midway through her book: A circus rope walker balances breath-taking difficulties. Yet tougher still to be a writer enduring a lifetime on the path of truth.

If this be her criteria, then Que Mai succeeds beautifully. All too many Americans have read Vietnamese writers who help them try to gain an understanding of the sad and futile Vietnamese War and our indefensible part in it. This author goes much further, bringing readers
...more
Ana (inquisitivebookworm)
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-releases
This book left me absolutely speechless. THE MOUNTAINS SING by Nguyen Phan Que Mai is a multigenerational saga that follows the Tran family starting in 1920 during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North, and decades later as the Vietnam War comes to a head.

Having studied the Vietnam War in school, I was never exposed to the other side of the story the extreme hardships faced by the Vietnamese people before, during, and after the war, and specifically those residing in
...more
The Nerd Daily
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Seven Jane

There is good reason that The Mountains Sing [Algonquin Books, March 17, 2020], the first novel in English by award-winning poet Nguyen Phan Que Mai, has been ranked among the most exciting writers to emerge in post-war Vietnamit is, in a word, breathtaking.

The Mountains Sing is an epic, multi-generational narrative that traces the arc of Vietnams turbulent and painful twentieth century history as Que Mai gracefully weaves together the
...more
Tammy
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vietnam is a country of great beauty and cultural richness. And I knew, historically at least, this is a country that was cruelly ravaged by the Great Hunger and Land Reform during which millions died and that these events gave rise to communism. I also knew about its exploitation by the French and Japanese as wells as the bombing etc. by the Americans. However, I knew nothing about the experiences or mindset of the people themselves. My ignorance is addressed as the author tells the story of ...more
Elena L.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wars have the power to turn graceful and cultured people into monsters.

Can I already say that this book will be my favorite read of the year?

THE MOUNTAINS SING is a multi-generational tale of the Tran family, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. I was hooked from the beginning - told in multiple POVs and timelines, this book allows us a profound and rare glimpse into the Vietnamese history. There are vivid descriptions and heartfelt emotions that bring the words to life. Beautifully
...more
Darla
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"I realize that blood that is shed can't make blood flow again in other people's veins." This powerful quote comes from a man named Minh who grew up in North Vietnam, was a victim of the Land Reform in the 50's, immigrated to South Vietnam, and was conscripted to fight for the South in the late 60's. He was the oldest of six children and his niece Huong is one of our narrators along with the family matriarch, Minh's mother Tran Dieu Lan. Experience the turmoil in Vietnam in the 50's and the 70's ...more
Sarah Marie


The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

4 stars

We didnt perish that day, in November 1972. After the sirens had signaled that it was safe, Grandma and I emerged, shivering thin leaves. We staggered out to the street. Several buildings had collapsed, their rubble spilling onto our path.

Hương lives in the midst of the Vietnam War. Her family has all gone to serve in the war except for her grandmother, Tran Dieu Lan, who takes care of her and protects her. Hươngs grandmother will do everything to

...more
Sherwood Smith
When I first immerse into a book I am no longer I, but ego dissolves away into an eye, absorbed completely into the world of the story, remerging at the end with that snap of the spiritual umbilicus. I use birth imagery here in part because the emotions seem to be akin in a way; the joy that comes of an intensely immersive book whelms that painful separation and summary reintroduction of the I.

The Mountains Sing is just such an immersive book.

Covering four generations, weaving back and forth
...more
Hannah Grace || BookNerdNative
I have read so many amazing books so far this year, but this one might take the cake. I think this will end up on my favorites of 2020 list. This book was absolutely heartbreaking but so hopeful as well, and I was so moved by the prose. The characters were so real and I just wanted to give them all an endless hug. I loved the multi-generational timeline, and each part of the story felt equally lush and thought out. My heart broke multiple times over for the hardships these characters faced, and ...more
Suzanne thebookblondie
The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (#27 in 2020)

Thank you to @algonquinbooks for my gifted copy!

Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her children during the Land Reform. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that ravaged not just her beloved country, but her family as well.

I'm the kind of person who gets hung up on proper pronunciation,
...more
Sage
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A stunning, lyrical, beautiful book. I feel privileged to have read it. The end was my favorite, and I particularly loved the grandmothers sections in the 1930s-1950s, because there is so much of the history that I had no idea of.

The author dedication hit me even harder after finishing the book. This is a super important book and I would recommend it to everyone.
...more
Fanna
Mar 02, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2020-releases
March 2, 2020: Not only would this book based on the real account of the tragic Vietnam War make my emotionally affected since I do fall alongside the main characters when reading such books, but it'll even give me some insights into the traditional & cultural aspects of a Vietnamese generation(s) so super excited! Thank you, LibroFM and Dreamscape Media LLC for the advanced listening copy.
Nicole reading_with_nicole
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have read a few of the new releases this year and not a single one has spoken to me or resinated with me the way this book has. I am not being bias because it is Asian fiction which I love very much, this book is just breathtaking I did listen to this book on libra.fm and I am also buying this book to add to my library. I highly recommend listening to it, to hear the story in the native tongue is truly beautiful
I am not going to spoil any of this book for anyone, what I will share is this is a
...more
Sachi Argabright
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
THE MOUNTAINS SING is a beautiful yet devastating historical fiction novel set during the Vietnam war. This multigenerational family saga focuses on a special bond between grandmother and granddaughter, and highlights the history of Vietnam in the decades they lived in.

I really enjoyed this debut title, and learned a lot about Vietnamese history as I read it. It mainly takes place during two historic periods of time: the Land Reform at the rise of Communism and during & after the Vietnam
...more
Kathi
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"In your schoolbooks, you won't find anything about the Land Reform nor about the internal fighting of the Viet Minh. A part of our country's history has been erased, together with the lives of countless people. We're forbidden to talk about events that relate to past mistakes or the wrongdoing of those in power, for they give themselves the right to rewrite history. But you're old enough to know that history will write itself in people's memories, and as long as those memories live on, we can ...more
Christian Kiefer
In her deeply felt debut novel, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai tells the story of three generations scattered by war and imperialism. For American readers in particular, this is essential reading: the "other side" of what we know as the Vietnam War. This is a novel about the weight of conflict upon families, upon relationships, upon the human heart. Not to be missed.
Tfalcone
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you NetGalley for the free ARC.

"Politics is as dirty as sewage."

Truer words have not been spoken. This is the best book I have read about Vietnam written from the Vietnamese point of view. The history lesson includes the French and Japanese occupations, the Viet Minh war (Indochina War), the great hunger and the land reform after the Geneva Accords until the eventual reunification. All of it is told from the viewpoint of several generations of the Tran family that suffered and survived
...more
Emmey
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just finished the ARC copy of this beautiful book, I could not put it down. It offers a human perspective of the events of 20th century in Vietnam by following one family through the century. Highly recommend!
Thanhha Lai
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't recommend this book enough. Written in English by a well-respected Vietnamese writer who reached deep into four generations of stories to spin a tale of survival, resilience, love and forgiveness. Read it to smell, taste, see, feel, hear the Vietnam War as lived by those on the ground.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
CLIMBING MANY MOUNTAINS 1 2 Mar 21, 2020 01:23AM  
AMERICAN HISTORIC...: Interview with Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai 3 19 Mar 20, 2020 04:58PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Tigers, Not Daughters
  • These Ghosts Are Family
  • Afterlife
  • Leading the Way: Women in Power
  • Valentine
  • The Family Upstairs
  • Amnesty
  • The Lost Night
  • Giovanni’s Room
  • The Yellow Bird Sings
  • Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me
  • Run Me to Earth
  • Know My Name: A Memoir
  • Sharks in the Time of Saviors
  • Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs
  • The Girl with the Louding Voice
  • The Majesties
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret
See similar books…
Born into the Việt Nam War in 1973, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai grew up witnessing the wars devastation and its aftermath. She worked as a street seller and rice farmer before winning a scholarship to attend university in Australia. She is the author of eight books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction published in Vietnamese, and her writing has been translated and published in more than 10 countries, most ...more

Articles featuring this book

Need another excuse to treat yourself to new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our list,...
30 likes · 20 comments