Library Journal

Jun 30, 2014 by Lan Cao, in The Lotus and the Storm
July 2014 Cao's long-awaited follow-up to Monkey Bridge is a sprawling saga that follows one family through the Vietnam War almost to the present day. Minh is a South Vietnamese army commander whose wife, Quy, comes from a prominent land-owning family. As the political winds shift and the Americans become more entrenched in the military action in Vietnam, the family's fortunes sometimes seem connected to Minh's uneasy friendship with Phong, one of the leaders of the 1963 coup. Much of the story is told in flashback from 2006, when Minh and his younger daughter Mai, who suffers from mental illness caused by childhood traumas, are living in Virginia. VERDICT The story of the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese point of view, Cao's ambitious novel is rich in detail, from mouth-watering descriptions of food to Vietnamese social relations in Vietnam and America to the (occasionally mind-numbing) events of the war. The chronology can be confusing, as the flashbacks are not told in a strict sequence. Yet Cao succeeds in making the story both epic and intimate, offering an important and necessary contribution to the literature of the war. [See Prepub Alert, 2/24/14.]—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis