Essays

Please Re-Wheel

Nhạc vàng songs are like ghosts living in and out of diaspora, trailing behind Vietnamese veterans, rewinding themselves, back to their country and the struggles of living through destitution and ideological polarization. The political and historical erasures that were never archived in print media were/are re/recorded and re/produced as songs. […]
The current generation of Vietnamese adults is too young to remember the war. On the margins of this shift stands Ninh, author of the country’s most cherished war novel, who not only spoke to the generation that fought the war, but humanised its victims, and in doing so, broke away from Vietnamese officialdom...
Sheila Ngoc Pham's essay gives an encompassing look at graphic novels by diasporic Vietnamese comic artists—Thi Bui, GB Tran, Marcelino Truong, Clement Baloup—from different countries: "All of these works span the turbulent last century of Vietnamese history, and are complementary as well as overlapping. Beginning with life under French colonial administration and the struggle for independence, right through to life during the war and thereafter—when we became refugees, migrants, transnationals, travelers."
I could say more here, about mistaken-ness and being mistaken, about refugees and human rights groups, about dogs on leashes, about signs and guns, and the 11th-Hour Remnant or the New Aryan Nation. About navigating Asian American identity here in Idaho as a public school teacher, coach, parent, and neighbor.
diaCRITICS editor Viet Thanh Nguyen writes on the rigidity of defined borders and recognizing the importance of immigrants in America's history: "I am an immigrant. I am also a human being, an American, a Vietnamese, an Asian and a refugee. I do not have to choose among these identities, despite those who would insist that I do."
An art critique essay by Monique Truong: "All journeys are composite acts of the imagination. Our traveling companions are myths, fantasies, History as we have learned it, and other compelling fictions, such as the idea of the self…"