“No Man’s Land” by Duong Thu Huong (Vietnam)
Set in a hamlet in the countryside of central Vietnam immediately following the end of the war in 1975, the novel’s plot is set in motion when a young woman, happily married to a successful farmer, comes home one day to find a throng of villagers assembled around her gate. She learns that her first husband, who reportedly died as a martyr and war hero many years back, is in fact alive and has returned to claim her. Faced with the immense pressure of the community and the Party authorities, who forced her marriage to the soldier on the day he was to leave for the front, she dutifully agrees to leave her second husband and their son to live in a squalid shack with the veteran. This tragic twist of fate gives the novel a powerful narrative drive that makes it Huong’s most accomplished work to date… Read more
A woman is a mysterious, incomprehensible world. She isn’t interested in ordinary logic, and she listens only to the voice of her heart. That’s why a man can never measure up.
At 450 pages, this was among the shortest of the 6 Big Books from my reading list. I found it an enjoyable read, one that made me reflect on the choices we are confronted with in life and whether our cultures will evolve to allow women to be the captains of their own lives.
Big Books Challenge 2014 reading list
There were some books in my to-read pile that I’d been putting off reading for years because they are over 400 pages long. So one of the reading resolutions I set myself for 2014 was to choose six of them to read that year (one every 2 months). And I did it; I cracked their spines and finished them all! The 6 books were:
“I Am A Cat” by Soseki Natsume (Japan) – 470 pages
“Wizard of the Crow” by Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya) – 766 pages
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia) – 422 pages
“Three Day Road” by Joseph Boyden (Canada) – 432 pages
“No Man’s Land” by Duong Thu Huong (Vietnam) – 450 pages
“A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry (India) – 614 pages