Thursday, 1 September 2011

Postcards From Nam by Uyen Nicole Duong

I requested Postcards From Nam by Uyen Nicole Duong through the Amazon Vine programme a couple of weeks ago.

Synopsis (from Amazon)  Mimi is a successful young Vietnamese immigrant practicing law in Washington, D.C. when the postcards begin to arrive. Postmarked from Thailand, each hand-drawn card is beautifully rendered and signed simply “Nam.” Mimi doesn’t recognize the name, but Nam obviously knows her well, spurring her to launch what will become a decade-long quest to find him. As her search progresses, long-repressed memories begin to bubble to the surface: her childhood in 1970s Vietnam in a small alley in pre-Communist Saigon. Back then, Nam was her best friend, a gifted artist who dreamed of someday sending his work around the globe. But when the children were separated by war, their lives diverged onto different paths: one to freedom and opportunity, the other to tragedy and pain. Now Mimi must uncover Nam’s story from the ensuing years, including his harrowing escape by boat from his ravaged homeland. Throughout her search, she clings to the hope that, despite the distance between them, the friends can share solace in the artwork that has reunited them

I chose this book from the Amazon Vine newsletter, the premise of the story really appealed to me, and I've not read many novels set around Vietnam before - so was interested to learn a little more.  This is a novella really at just 100 pages long, but every one of the pages contain words that really touch the heart.

Mimi is a succesful lawyer based in America, she is a Vietnamese immigrant who has americanised both her name and her lifestyle.   Mimi's family were lucky enough to be able to leave their home in South Vietnam just before the North took over.   Other family members and friends were not so lucky though, and Mimi has distanced herself from the memories of her past.   Then, out of the blue, postcards begin to arrive.  Beautifully, hand drawn postcards that are personal to Mimi, and to her past.  Who is sending them, and why?  What do they mean?
After speaking with her family, it becomes clear to Mimi that these cards are being sent by Nam.  Nam was a childhood neighbour back in Vietnam and Mimi has heard nothing from him for years.   Determined to find out more about the cards and about Nam, Mimi tracks down refugees and learns through them, of Nam's ordeals over the past years.  He has suffered dreadfully, yet still he remembers her.
There are some haunting passages in this short novel, the terrors suffered by Nam over the years are harsh, yet his love for Mimi never dies and his art work iives on.
Photo from The San Jose Library SystemThis is a beautifully crafted story.

Uyen Nicole Duong was born in 1959 in Hoi An and grew up in Saigon.  Her family fled Vietnam on April 30 1975.  She is a professor at the University of Denver and has also written a novel called Daughters of the River Huong. 


  1. This does sound interesting but I had no idea it was so short, I have missed noticing that before.

  2. I was unable to comment on your Transworld Challenge post today, so popped back here instead. Great review,this is also one of my choices.