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Most debut novels are projects of confession, pleas for understanding, manifestations of an author’s attempt to rescue herself. My own debut novel, If I Had Two Lives, was for me the beginning of a wish⎯a harsh whisper after years of silence, a blindfolded dive into the many tunnels of the subconscious to emerge with something resembling a clear thought, a spark of feelings.
He bought a convenience store instead. It belonged to an Indian man who would light incense every morning with his palms pressed firmly together, bowing his head not in front of pictures of his deceased grandparents like we do but in front of the cash register.
The “minor” characters interest me because they were, in fact, present within history and were witnesses and participants, and yet few historians have bothered to inquire into what these folks saw, felt, and understood about the world. It takes a heck more research and labor to locate the history of these so-called “minor” characters.
Fire Summer begins with the political intrigue of counterrevolution in Vietnam, but it is fundamentally a quest narrative full of detours and discoveries. In the world Lam creates, strong emotions change reality. Due to the love that binds the living and the dead, the dead remain vibrant.
Perhaps, my writing comes from this hope that the stories I pass on will collide with the stories I create for myself and this will be enough of a legacy. A legacy that my family will be proud of. I am always trying to find parallels between me and the silence that plagues my family.