Eric Nguyễn: Things We Lost to the Water

Hương fled Việt Nam with her husband and two sons (one by her side and another inside her). As they got on the boat, however, she lost contact with her husband. He stayed behind. She went on, gave birth to her second son, and settled in New Orleans. As a single mother, she worked in the nail salon to raise her two boys. One joined a Vietnamese gang and one was gay.

Eric Nguyễn’s debut novel is a touching story of the Vietnamese immigrants. His writing is decent. I am also glad that he incorporated the Vietnamese writing throughout the book, but he should have had an editor who could edit his Vietnamese, which is riddled with errors. For example: “Gần tới rới” (should be “rồi”), “Trời ổi” (should be “ơi”), Lực Lượng Miển Nam (should be “Miền”), and “Nguròi sận xủất” (I cannot figure out what word that is). Some of his Vietnamese-English dialogues sounded odd. For instance, “Be vâng lời for Bà Giang, okay?” We don’t talk like that.

It is such an unfortunate to see these errors ruined such a beautiful novel. It could have been avoided if he let someone who knows Vietnamese to look over them.

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