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The Mountains Sing
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The Mountains Sing


Bookseller Recommendation

The Mountains Sing

“Deep human bonds of family, place, and memory are written of in ways that are often heartbreaking, but show the strength and persistence of those ties. This is a book that glows with spirit and those larger life forces that include love. I look forward to the day I can put this book in readers' hands.”

The Elliott Bay Book Company image Rick, The Elliott Bay Book Company

Description

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee's Pachinko and Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner's In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War.

Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí 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 of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope. The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's first novel in English.

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Testimonials


“Expansive in scope and feeling, The Mountains Sing is a feat of hope, an unflinchingly felt inquiry into the past, with the courageous storytelling of the present.”

Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

“An epic account of Việt Nam’s painful 20th century history, both vast in scope and intimate in its telling . . . Moving and riveting.”

Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of The Sympathizer

“Deep human bonds of family, place, and memory are written of in ways that are often heartbreaking, but show the strength and persistence of those ties. This is a book that glows with spirit and those larger life forces that include love. I look forward to the day I can put this book in readers' hands.”

Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company

Videos


Quotes


History will write itself in people’s memories, and as long as those memories live on, we can have faith that we can do better.
Only through honesty can we learn about the truth.

About the author


Dr Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is an award-winning writer in both Vietnamese and English. Her eight books of poetry, short fiction and non-fiction in Vietnamese have received some of Vietnam's top literary awards including the 2010 Poetry of the Year Award from the Hanoi Writers Association, the Capital’s Literature & Arts Award, and First Prize in the Poetry Competition celebrating 1,000 Years of Hanoi. Her debut novel and first book in English, The Mountains Sing, is an International Bestseller, a New York Times Editors' Choice Selection, Winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Best Debut Award, a Finalist of the Audie 2021 Best Audiobook of the Year Award, and Winner of the 2020 Lannan Literary Award Fellowship for "a work of exceptional quality" and for "contribution to peace and reconciliation". The novel has been named a best book of 2020 by many media establishments including NPR and the Washington Independent Review of Books. Quế Mai is the translator of seven books published in Vietnam and the United States, and has received the Vietnam Writers Association’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Vietnamese Literature Overseas. She currently divides her time between Indonesia and Vietnam. Her journalism regularly appears in major Vietnamese newspapers.


Reviews

“The author and poet, known in her native Vietnam as Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’, tells a comprehensive multigenerational tale, beginning in 1920s Vietnam and continuing through modern wartime. However, the larger history takes a back seat to family dynamics, demonstrating how different generations weather the burdens of conflict.”

The Washington Post, "Ten Books to Read in March"

“[A] lyrical, sweeping debut novel . . . Nguyễn brilliantly explores the boundary between what a writer shares with the world and what remains between family. This brilliant, unsparing love letter to Vietnam will move readers.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[A] panoramic epic . . . Like the work of Duong Thu Huong, who deserves the Nobel one day, this book brings to life a crucial part of Vietnamese history from within. You heart will not leave this book untouched.”

Literary Hub

“Honest, alluring and hopeful, The Mountains Sing is a stunning work of historical fiction that lays bare history long forgotten; an essential novel for readers looking to uncover the truth of Việt Nam.”

Paperback Paris

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