Việt Thanh Nguyễn: The Refugees

Somehow I had mistaken Việt Thanh Nguyễn’s The Refugees as a collection of non-fiction short stories. After reading the first piece, which is about ghosts, I quickly realized that this is a work of fiction. Nevertheless, I went on to finish the whole book. Nguyễn’s narrative writing is understated yet emotional. From a young gay refugee to a Vietnamese professor who suffered dementia to a half sister who used an alternative career, the short stories are beautifully crafted and imagined. My only pet peeve is that Nguyễn omitted accents for Vietnamese words. For a Vietnamese author, not using diacritics is inexcusable.