Author: Que Mai Phan Nguyen
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Book Description: With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.
Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.
The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s first novel in English.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Review: The Mountains Sing is a sweeping family saga set in Vietnam. I have not had an opportunity to read too much on Vietnam War, so I was glad to be given a chance to read this advance of publication.
Centered around two strong women Tran who was had to leave her home in North Vietnam in the 50’s as the communists began to take over. Years later we are introduced to Huong, Tran’s granddaughter in Ha Noi with the backdrop of the war going on.
Told over two timelines, I found this story gripping at times. The opening chapter Nguyen, drops us right in the middle of the war when Tran is walking Huong to school. On the walk, bombs are dropped and many locals are killed. We learn Huong is living with her grandmother due to Huong’s parents, aunts and uncles are fighting their battle.
The author who was born in Vietnam during the war, tells us a gorgeous story, that is heartbreaking and uplifting. At times I found myself drifting, but in all honesty the chapters were very long at times, and that is not a preference for me.
If you are fans of Pachinko, Homegoing and Americanah I sincerely believe you will love this book. This is definitely in its same canon.
Thank you NetGally and Algonquin Books for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.