Literature and War Readalong December 30 2013: The Sorrow of War aka Thân phận của tình yêu by Bao Ninh

The Sorrow of War

We’ve all seen movies or read books on the war in Vietnam from an American perspective. Bao Ninh’s The Sorrow of War aka Thân phận của tình yêu is told from the other side. The author was a North Vietnamese soldier and the book is based on his experiences.  The majority of the books we’ve read this year were set far away from the frontline. With this last novel of this year’s readalong, we return to the territory of the soldier.

Here’s the blurb

Kien’s job is to search the Jungle of Screaming Souls for corpses. He knows the area well – this was where, in the dry season of 1969, his battalion was obliterated by American napalm and helicopter gunfire. Kien was one of only ten survivors. This book is his attempt to understand the eleven years of his life he gave to a senseless war.

And the first sentences

On the banks of the Ya Crong Poco, on the northern flank of the 3B battlefield in the Central Highlands, the Missing In Action body-collecting team awaits the dry season of 1976.

The mountains an jungles ae water-soaked and dull. Wet trees. Quiet jungles. All day and all night the water steams. A sea of greenish vapour over the jungle’s carpet of rotting leaves.


The discussion starts on Monday, 3o December 2013.

Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2013, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.