Things We Lost to the Water Summary and Reviews

Things We Lost to the Water

by Eric Nguyen

Things We Lost to the Water by Eric Nguyen X
Things We Lost to the Water by Eric Nguyen
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  • Published in USA  May 2021
    304 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A stunning debut novel about an immigrant Vietnamese family who settles in New Orleans and struggles to remain connected to one another as their lives are inextricably reshaped.

When Huong arrives in New Orleans with her two young sons, she is jobless, homeless, and worried about her husband, Cong, who remains in Vietnam. As she and her boys begin to settle in to life in America, she continues to send letters and tapes back to Cong, hopeful that they will be reunited and her children will grow up with a father.

But with time, Huong realizes she will never see her husband again. While she attempts to come to terms with this loss, her sons, Tuan and Binh, grow up in their absent father's shadow, haunted by a man and a country trapped in their memories and imaginations. As they push forward, the three adapt to life in America in different ways: Huong gets involved with a Vietnamese car salesman who is also new in town; Tuan tries to connect with his heritage by joining a local Vietnamese gang; and Binh, now going by Ben, embraces his adopted homeland and his burgeoning sexuality. Their search for identity--as individuals and as a family--threatens to tear them apart, un­til disaster strikes the city they now call home and they are suddenly forced to find a new way to come together and honor the ties that bind them.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In this decades-spanning novel, a family of Vietnamese refugees makes a home in New Orleans... Debut author Nguyen movingly portrays the way adopted homes can become as cherished and familiar as ancestral ones...An engrossing, prismatic portrait of first- and second-generation Vietnamese American life." - Kirkus Reviews

"[C]aptivating...an expansive portrayal of New Orleans's Vietnamese community...Readers will find this gripping and illuminating." - Publishers Weekly

"Things We Lost to the Water introduces an exquisite new voice in author Eric Nguyen; his debut novel is a luminous, balletic portrayal of an immigrant Vietnamese family in the US...Nguyen navigates their multiple perspectives with dexterity and emotional clarity, aching but never maudlin. I loved every page." - BuzzFeed

"A devastatingly beautiful debut novel of secrets, deceits, and survivals. An extraordinary tale of a mother and her two sons, torn apart by the storms of Vietnam, to be tested again by the hurricanes of New Orleans. The end has me weeping from joy, sorrow and hope. Eric Nguyen's talent radiates via his urgent prose and his ability to sketch the fine line between loyalty and betrayal, between what brings us together and what breaks us apart. Things We Lost to the Water is a powerful, stunning, and necessary read!" - Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, author of The Mountains Sing

"Things We Lost to the Water introduces an exquisite new voice in author Eric Nguyen; his debut novel is a luminous, balletic portrayal of an immigrant Vietnamese family in the US...Nguyen navigates their multiple perspectives with dexterity and emotional clarity, aching but never maudlin. I loved every page." - BuzzFeed

"This is an elemental book, of water, for sure, but also of other elements of life, including love and loss. Vietnamese people know all about these elements, coming from a country whose entire length is bordered by a sea, and from a history saturated with loss. Love is one element that has enabled their survival, but sometimes at a cost. Eric Nguyen's powerful novel ripples and gleams with the unpredictable flow and surge of love, which, like water, can drown us or sustain us. From a war to a hurricane, from an ocean to a flood, Things We Lost to the Water proves itself to be a novel that sustains us." - Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer

"Exquisitely well-written, Things We Lost to the Water is a tender, haunting story of loss, love, family and survival. A moving and powerful debut." - Charles Yu, National Book Award-winning author of Interior Chinatown

This information about Things We Lost to the Water shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Eric Nguyen

Eric Nguyen earned an MFA in Creative Writing from McNeese State University in Louisiana. He has been awarded fellowships from Lambda Literary, Voices of Our Nation Arts (VONA), and the Tin House Writers Workshop. He is the editor-in-chief of diaCRITICS.org. He lives in Washington, DC. Things We Lost to the Water is his first novel

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