An introduction to the themes of a still-evolving American ethnic literature
This Is All I Choose to Tell
History and Hybridity in Vietnamese American Literature
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Isabelle Thuy Pelaud
A title in the American Literatures Initiative.
In the first book-length study of Vietnamese American literature, Isabelle Thuy Pelaud probes the complexities of Vietnamese American identity and politics. She provides an analytical introduction to the literature, showing how generational differences play out in genre and text. In addition, she asks, can the term Vietnamese American be disassociated from representations of the war without erasing its legacy?
Pelaud delineates the historical, social, and cultural terrains of the writing as well as the critical receptions and responses to them. She moves beyond the common focus on the Vietnam war to develop an interpretive framework that integrates post-colonialism with the multi-generational refugee, immigrant, and transnational experiences at the center of Vietnamese American narratives.
Her readings of key works, such as Andrew Pham's Catfish and Mandala and Lan Cao's Monkey Bridge show how trauma, race, class and gender play a role in shaping the identities of Vietnamese American characters and narrators.
"Pelaud has produced the first book specifically devoted to Vietnamese American literature. The poignancy of this benchmark is not to be missed. Her book is a timely contribution to the field of Asian American literary studies and to the emergent subfield of Vietnamese American literary and cultural studies. She makes Vietnamese American literature readily visible for readers who are interested in finding an anchor through which to wrestle with this corpus of cultural work. I have a deep appreciation for what Pelaud has done."
"Pelaud provides the first comprehensive introduction and overview of Vietnamese American literature, a largely ignored and under-studied area within the larger field of Asian American literature.... Throughout, Pelaud's writing is clear and her analysis sharp. This accessible book is a must read. Summing Up: Highly recommended."
"This Is All I Choose to Tell is timely, arriving at a moment when the interest in literature from a global perspective has taken as a top priority the relationship between minor and major literatures.... This Is All I Choose to Tell establishes a starting point for defining Vietnamese American literature as a field with a history, and compels us to think about how to maintain its specificity and autonomy while understanding its contingent nature."
"[T]his is a groundbreaking book regarding Vietnamese American issues in their emerging literature."
"[A] sensitive study of Vietnamese American literature.... This Is All I Choose to Tell [is a] critically valuable intervention within the field of Vietnamese American studies, not merely within contexts of the Vietnam War and its memorial afterlife, but also within larger debates in Asian American representations related to ethnicity, immigration, gender, class, and the continual reconfiguration of recently (dis)integrated individual, political, and national selves."
"The first book-length study of Vietnamese American literature, This Is All I Choose to Tell is unquestionably an essential contribution to the field of Asian American studies.... Pelaud provides scholars and teachers alike with an impressive road map to this burgeoning body of literature, expanding on rigorous literary surveys.... As evidenced by her faithful, meticulous readings, Pelaud is adamant we appreciate the personal commitment needed to transform contradictory positions into artistic products."
"This Is All I Choose to Tell represents the first book-length study of Vietnamese American literature to date, providing in the first half of the book an overview of the historical-political context of Vietnamese American literature and, in the second half, close readings and theoretical interpretations of specific literary texts.... The title of Pelaud’s book...beautifully encapsulates the way in which Vietnamese American writers have found ways to navigate the complex ethical terrain of disclosure and nondisclosure, of historical witnessing and appropriation, of therapeutic telling and articulate silence."
Part I: Inclusion
Part II: Interpretation
In the series
Asian American History and Culture, edited by K. Scott Wong, Linda Trinh Vő, and Cathy Schlund-Vials.
Founded by Sucheng Chan in 1991, the Asian American History and Culture, series has sponsored innovative scholarship that has redefined, expanded, and advanced the field of Asian American studies while strengthening its links to related areas of scholarly inquiry and engaged critique. Like the field from which it emerged, the series remains rooted in the social sciences and humanities, encompassing multiple regions, formations, communities, and identities. Extending the vision of founding editor Sucheng Chan and emeriti editor Michael Omi and David Palumbo-Liu, series editors K. Scott Wong, Linda Trinh Vő, and Cathy Schlund-Vials continue to develop a foundational collection that embodies a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to Asian American studies.