This collection of 14 stories—each a harrowing sketch of the Vietnam War and its aftermath—offers American readers a glimpse of familiar territory, but from an unfamiliar perspective. Often writing from a young woman's point of view, Le Minh Khue, a war veteran who served in the Youth Volunteers Brigade, uses simple, understated prose to describe numbing horrors. Her stories explore themes such as love and war, the tangles of family relationships, and the complexities of post-war life. Khue gives readers a look into Vietnam before, during, and after the war with the United States.
The Stars, the Earth, the River contains an excellent introduction by the translators, grounding the stories in Le Minh Khue's personal history. You simultaneously feel the rage of the author and the narrator when Khue disparagingly notes that the conversations around her center on luxuries, motor scooters, and business deals. Of what use, these stories ask, is such suffering? How can a culture honor the losses of war?