When it first appeared in 1987, the title story of this collection of stories by Nguyen Huy Thiep caused a sensation in Vietnam. Not since the Communist revolution had readers found as stark and compelling a view of their world as The General Retires offered them. Written in spare, succinct prose, it captures the despair of an old general who, after many years of devoted sWhen it first appeared in 1987, the title story of this collection of stories by Nguyen Huy Thiep caused a sensation in Vietnam. Not since the Communist revolution had readers found as stark and compelling a view of their world as The General Retires offered them. Written in spare, succinct prose, it captures the despair of an old general who, after many years of devoted service to his country, is alienated by the emptiness of the society into which he retires and ultimately flees. Nguyen probes similar themes in the stories that follow, from Cun, the moving tale of a crippled beggar, to A Drop of Blood, a dark history of a family set against decades of war and revolution. With eight powerfully written storiesall available in English for the first timeand including an introduction by Greg Lockhart that traces the varied traditions of Vietnamese literature to the present day, this collection offers unprecedented insight into a society trying to overcome and understand years of pain and civil strife....
|Title||:||The General Retires and Other Stories|
|Number of Pages||:||160 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The General Retires and Other Stories Reviews
N.H. Thiep is one of the fortunate few who were born with the gift of being able to write about the ugly, the unspeakable, the inhuman using the simplest, purest words sometimes so painfully beautiful, that in the end you tend to believe, maybe two extremes are not so far from one another after all.
Originally translated in 1992, this collection of Nguyen Huy Thiep's short stories is one of the best-known examples of modern Vietnamese literature available in the English language.The stories are very detailed, telling the tales of everyday people living in various periods in 19th and 20th Century Vietnam. Some of the stories have hints of the magical or legendary, giving them a mystical quality that I found a nice addition.Other themes featured are the differences between country and urban lifestyles, and the struggle of people clinging to traditional values in the face of change. This is particularly apparent in the title story, told from the point of view of an intellectual son of the time that his father lives with the family after retiring from the army.I enjoyed this story, as well as several of the stories that I felt veered into magic-realism territory, including "The Water Nymph", "Cun", and "Run, River, Run".Ngyen Huy Thiep inflicts a lot of misery on his characters, and there are some disturbing scenes among these stories, including a rape (not graphically described), and a number of gruesome deaths.The longest story in the book, "A Drop of Blood" was my least favorite. It's a multi-generational family history, with a great deal of misery and backstabbing, but no real direction and no characters I found appealing. Aside from that, I enjoyed all of the stories, and even in "A Drop of Blood", the detail work on the setting was excellent.
There's a larger collection of stories by this Vietnamese writer available, Crossing the River: Short Fiction by Nguyen Huy Thiep, though this slim volume works as an introduction. Thoroughly brutal but undeniably memorable short stories. Nasty scenes abound: in a historical piece a rich mandarin rolls into a tiny provincial inn and demands a girl, the innkeeper finally forced to offer his virgin thirteen year-old daughter for lack of anyone else. The rich fellow muses that it sure is a tragedy, but life is cruel and who's he to challenge fate? There's also the title story, in which it is revealed that the General's daughter-in-law, who works in an abortion clinic, is feeding the fetuses to the family pigs. Lest all this turn off the potential reader - or potential tourists to the country - it must be said that Mr. Nguyen's stories achieve a weird sort of beauty and that their cruelty never feels gratuitous. He always writes about his lovely land with an eye on its violent, wretched history and has supposedly run into much trouble with censors and their required positive social outlook. As one of the few Vietnamese writers to make his way into English translation, Nguyen paints a bleak picture but an uncompromising and an honest one.
This book is raw. I think he skipped out on incest, but we definitely had rape, suicide, cutting off balls, and drowning.
A true gem I discovered in a book shop in central Hanoi. Thiep can convey so many emotions in just a few pages. The descriptions of Vietnamese life and social issues really help you to gain a deeper insight into the psyche of this tropical nation. Vietnam is really fortunate to possess such a wealth of literature and writers.
เล่าแบบเนื้อๆ ไม่มีน้ำ เหมือนรายงานข่าวชีวิตประจำวัน เห็นภาพฉากสังคมในเวียดนามเรื่องสุดท้ายชื่อ เลือดหยดสุดท้าย อ่านไปเรื่อยๆ ยังไม่รู้ว่าจุดประสงค์ของเรื่องต้องการบอกอะไร เรื่องดำเนินจากรุ่นทวดมาจบที่รุ่นเหลน ถือว่าจบดีลงตัวกับชื่อเรื่องเป๊ะ
Wholly uneventful, but a very nice window into Vietnamese history and culture if you're okay with stories that don't necessarily go anywhere.
Although not well edited, the poetic essence of Vietnamese literature is not lost in this collection of short stories. The writing is candid and at times there is a brutal honesty in the way the harshness of life is portrayed. Enjoyable and worth the read if you enjoy the immersion into rustic rural life writing that is unique because of the rich cultural heritage of Vietnam.
Very Vietnamese stories and style. I felt obliged to whip through it as a temporary resident, but no real enjoyment or insight has come as a result!
Beautiful Vietnamese short stories mainly about village life. A must-read if you are interested in or have visited Vietnam.