We Should Never Meet: Stories

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9780312322663: We Should Never Meet: Stories

Compelling, moving, and beautifully written, the interlinked stories that make up We Should Never Meet alternate between Saigon before the city's fall in 1975 and present-day "Little Saigon" in Southern California---exploring the reverberations of the Vietnam War in a completely new light.

Intersecting the lives of eight characters across three decades and two continents, these stories dramatize the events of Operation Babylift, the U.S.-led evacuation of thousands of Vietnamese orphans to America just weeks before the fall of Saigon. Unwitting reminders of the war, these children were considered bui doi, the dust of life, and faced an uncertain, dangerous existence if left behind in Vietnam.

Four of the stories follow the saga of one orphan's journey from the points-of-view of a teenage mother, a duck farmer and a Catholic nun from the Mekong Delta, a social worker in Saigon, and a volunteer doctor from America. The other four take place twenty years later and chronicle the lives of four Vietnamese orphans now living in America: Kim, an embittered Amerasian searching for her unknown mother; Vinh, her gang member ex-boyfriend who preys on Vietnamese families; Mai, an ambitious orphan who faces her emancipation from the American foster-care system; and Huan, an Amerasian adopted by a white family, who returns to Vietnam with his adoptive mother.

We Should Never Meet is one of those rare books that truly takes an original look at the human condition---and marks the exciting debut of a major new writer for our time.

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From the Back Cover:

Praise for We Should Never Meet

"This extraordinary book creates with eloquent dignity an intricate bridge of human stories connecting America and Vietnam."
- Lan Samantha Chang, author of Hunger: A Novella and Stories

"With this remarkably original and impressive debut Aimee Phan takes her place among the very best of the new wave of Asian-American authors. Few, if any, rival the literary ambition and thematic scope so evident in We Should Never Meet, which deftly spans generations, continents, and cultures. The lives revealed here are those of perhaps the most neglected victims of the Vietnam War, its orphans---those abandoned by American GIs and those who lost parents. Phan's loving but unflinching look at these displaced lives illuminates the murky heart of a forgotten American tragedy."
- David Wong Louie, author of The Barbarians Are Coming

"In Aimee Phan's collection of stories, We Should Never Meet, she accomplishes what only a true artist can: She gives voice to the voiceless and makes them speak for us all. This is a thrillingly important book."
- Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize--winning, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

"In gorgeously liquid prose, Aimee Phan gives us deep insight into contemporary Vietnamese-American life. There is a stark eloquence to this book that lingers within me, compelling a reconsideration of what I thought I knew about the war in Vietnam and more important, the war's long-term effects on the people of both countries. We Should Never Meet is an important book by a splendid and passionate new writer."
- Chris Offutt, author of No Heroes: A Memoir of Coming Home and Kentucky Straight

About the Author:

Aimee Phan was born in 1977 in Orange County, Californuia, and now teaches in Las Vegas, Nevada. She received her MFA from the University of Iowa, where she won a Maytag Fellowship.

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