The Mountains Sing

By Mai Phan Que Nguyen,

Book cover of The Mountains Sing

Book description

Years later in Ha Noi, her young granddaughter, Huong, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked The Mountains Sing as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Although this book is non-fiction, it took me on an adventure through Vietnam, as I fell in love with their culture. This was the first book I’d read with a Vietnamese protagonist and one thing that made me fall in love with the story was the main character, Trần Diệu Lan’s, powerful narration. It inspired me to learn more about Vietnamese mythology and folklore. This is yet another book that has helped me during troubling times of COVID because of how the characters conquered adversity and tackled the struggles of being separated from family. I was able to relate it…

Nguyễn is a gorgeous writer who keeps the reader at the edge of their seat with every word she writes. This historical fiction throws you into the Vietnam War and shows you an angle that is rarely seen by the west: that of the Vietnamese people. Nguyễn shows us the cost of human lives through the eyes of ordinary people while introducing us to a beautiful, resilient culture. While the reader sees a lot of tragedy, the way this story is woven is captivating and enlightening. I love this book. 

From Shugri's list on bringing other cultures to life.

Although it is the most recently published of this group, The Mountains Sing has already been widely read, reviewed, and translated and is justifiably on its way to becoming a mainstay in the literature of the Vietnam War. 

The novel serves as a welcome counterpoint to Graham Greene’s Phuong and much other fiction about the war and Vietnam; what the writer wants to—and powerfully succeeds in doing—is to present non-Vietnamese readers not only with female central characters who break the Madame Butterfly/Miss Saigon/Quiet American stereotypes, but whose voices take us into the heart of the country itself, the painful history…

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai has created a beautifully told tale of the Tran family’s journey through the twentieth century. It is a story of triumph and tragedy, sorrow and joy, and the monumental struggle to overcome the most brutal vicissitudes of life. Although the struggles are different, the Tran family’s trials are reminiscent of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and the Wang family in Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth.

It is a story about how families come together during times of great tribulations and the lengths they will go to survive and to remain…

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