A beautifully illustrated graphic memoir of a young French-Vietnamese boy living in Vietnam with his family during the 1960s.
Marcelino Truong’s father worked as a translator for Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem in the 1960s. The family moves from the US, where they had been living for the past three years, to Vietnam. I’m not sure how old the three kids are but they look between the ages of 6 to 12. Their mother is French and their father Vietnamese.
It’s fascinating seeing the Vietnam war through the eyes of this young boy, upper-class, who lives in a nice apartment with servants to help his mother do housework and drive them around.
And more unusual for that time, whether in Vietnam or the US, a biracial family,
I may be from Southeast Asia (Singapore), but we never learnt anything much about the Vietnam War in school. I’ve since then read some books about it but I’ve learnt from this graphic memoir too, especially about Madame Nhu, the de facto First Lady at the time (the Prime Minister was a lifelong bachelor and she was his sister-in-law). She pushed for “morality laws” like banning divorce, abortions, dance halls, boxing matches.
Truong has a beautiful illustration style. The images look a little like woodcuts.
He occasionally includes drawings from his childhood, letters from his mother to his grandparents in France.
I read this for Asian Lit Bingo – multiracial/multiethnic Asian MC. Find out more details about the challenge here.
I really enjoyed this memoir too and, yes, wow, learned a lot as well (some of those double-page spreads are really informative). I loved the way that the innocence of childhood still comes through, despite the up-close-ness of the war in those years for their family. The second volume was good too, but it ended rather abruptly. I would have rather read a few more volumes than had such a quick conclusion, which is a nice “criticism” for an author to have I’d say!
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