Excerpt from The Unwanted by Kien Nguyen, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Unwanted

By Kien Nguyen

The Unwanted
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Mar 2001,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2002,
    368 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Right, Mommy," I agreed halfheartedly.

I walked to the bedroom window and looked outside. I could see porters carrying cases of Champagne Guy Larmandier into the house. The garden was lit up by multicolored lights, with every shrub transformed into some sort of animal. Next to the pool, behind a couple of rose bushes, a group of musicians tested their electrical instruments. The noise resolved itself into a lively, cheery tune that carried through the thick air. The cooks, maids, and waiters ran back and forth like ants in an ant farm, all lost in their own assignments. The neighborhood children, clustered next to a few adults, gathered around the front gates, staring curiously inside. Should anyone venture too close to the gates, security men would push them away. Over the sounds of celebration, deep in the darkness, the ocean moaned its constant, breathy rhythm.

"When do I get to blow out the candles?" I asked, turning to look at my mother.

"Right after dinner."

"When do we have dinner?"

"When all the guests arrive," she said.

"When will that be?"

"Around nine-thirty." My mother regarded her nails. A pang of dissatisfaction washed over her face as she reached for her bright orange nail polish.

"Can I stay awake after the cake, Mommy?"

"No, darling. After the cake there will be dancing. You are too young to stay up that late. Maybe next year. Now, be a good boy and go play with your brother."

"But he is sleeping in Grandma's room."

"Then go wake him up. Tell Grandma or Loan to dress both of you." She pushed me out of her room and carefully closed the door without touching her nails.



BY THE TIME Jimmy and I changed into the party clothes that my mother had ordered from the Sears catalog, a luxury that few could afford in Vietnam, the guests had finally arrived. From my grandparents' bedroom, we could hear every noise the people outside made. Gazing at each other nervously, we pressed our ears against the thin wall, listening to the footsteps that ran frantically up and down the hallway. The rich smell of cooked spices mixed with the heavy odor of perfume.

Finally, my mother burst into the room with enough exuberance to burn out a lightbulb. Her off-white evening gown embraced her, gushing down her body like a stream of silver water. Her hair was bound above her neck in a complicated knot, revealing a diamond necklace and two small diamond earrings. She looked foreign, formidable, elegant as an Egyptian queen. She smiled through her makeup, as she reached for us with bare arms that sparkled with diamonds. We entered her cloud of perfume, and together, hand in hand, we walked into the noisy brightness outside.

The rest of the evening is a blur. I vaguely recall the laughter, the kisses, the food, the stark colors, the songs, and the mountain of presents that filled my room. I also remember the foreign guests with sandy hair and blue eyes, as well as the anxious talk on everyone's lips about the revolution. Jimmy and I were sent to bed immediately after I blew out the candles on top of my gigantic cake. And I was to sleep for three years, banished from my mother's warmth and sent away to school, leaving behind the special night that was supposed to be mine.

Copyright © 2001 by Nguyen-Andrews, LLC

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  19The Arsonist:
    Sue Miller
  2.  103Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.