The Land South of the Clouds

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Novels, United States on 2017-03-09 01:48Z by Steven

The Land South of the Clouds

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press
2016-10-25
350 pages
Softcover ISBN: 9781935754800

Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith, Professor of Creative Writing
Louisiana Tech University

It is the summer of 1979–the year of Apocalypse Now, long lines at the gas pumps, and American hostages in Iran–and 10-year-old Long Vanh is burdened with the secret his mother, Vu-An, entrusted him to keep: not to tell anyone of her desire to return to Vietnam to be with her father who is serving hard labor in a reeducation camp.

As a con lai–half Vietnamese, half black–Long Vanh struggles to see his place in “Asia Minor,” an enclave of Los Angeles comprised of veterans and their foreign war wives. He sees his inability to speak or read his mother’s native language, or even maneuver chopsticks perfectly, as flaws, and hopes that if he can compensate for them, his mother will stay in America to keep the family intact.

The Land South of the Clouds serves as the companion piece to The Land Baron’s Sun: The Story of Lý Loc and His Seven Wives. It is the story of immigrant families meshing into the fabric of American culture, their memories of the old country weighing on their conscience, and the repercussions they feel even from thousand of miles away on another continent, in another world, another life.

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The Land Baron’s Sun: The Story of Lý Loc and His Seven Wives

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Poetry on 2017-03-08 01:09Z by Steven

The Land Baron’s Sun: The Story of Lý Loc and His Seven Wives

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press
2014
108 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9781935754350

Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith, Professor of Creative Writing
Louisiana Tech University

The Land Baron’s Sun chronicles through poetry the life of Lý Loc, the son of an affluent Vietnamese landowner who was thought to own the sun by his children, wives, servants, and tenant farmers because it had always shone favorably upon him. Lý Loc lived just as prosperous a life, one in which he rose to the rank of major commander for the South Vietnamese Army and was attended to by seven wives who bore him twenty-seven children. On April 20, 1975, the day Saigon fell, fate took a cruel turn for Lý Loc, as the sun, a symbol of the divine love, refused to shine. His capture by the Việt Cộng and incarceration in a reeducation camp marked only the beginning of the sun recouping all that it had bestowed upon Lý Loc and his family. Smith’s poems delve into Lý Loc’s childhood and adult life, his years spent in the reeducation camp, and his wives’ and children’s fate—both in Vietnam and, for those who were fortunate enough to escape, in America. The poems expose the beauty and freedom of the human spirit and the lushness that was once Vietnam; likewise, they show the undeniable oppression of a country divided on itself and the struggle its people went through to survive.

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