The Sorrow of War

Bao Ninh

translated from the Vietnamese
Minerva 1994
A book review by Danny Yee © 1995
Bao Ninh's The Sorrow of War is a hauntingly powerful Vietnam war novel. Much of it is clearly autobiographical, and the blurred distinction between the narrator and the protagonist, Kien, eventually collapses. It is structured as a series of reminiscences, jumping backwards and forwards in time between the events most salient in memory, events which take on a different hue each time they are examined. Kien looks back not just at his ten years at war, but at his final days at school, his work with an MIA team after the war, the slow disintegration of his life since, and the solace he finds in his writing. The Sorrow of War manages to convey not just the immediate horrors of war, but also the emotional damage it wreaks and the dislocation of lives it causes; it is one of the best war novels I have read.

September 1995

External links:
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Related reviews:
- Duong Thu Hong - Novel Without a Name
- books about Vietnam + Vietnamese history
- more Vietnamese literature
- more war fiction
%T The Sorrow of War
%A Bao Ninh
%M Vietnamese
%F Phan Thanh Hao
%F Palmos, Frank
%I Minerva
%D 1994
%O paperback
%G ISBN 074939711X
%P 217pp