Book Summary: No Mans Land – Dan

No Mans Land

No mans land “No Mans Land” was written by the Vietnamese author Duong Thu Huong. An accomplished work of art “No Mans Land” has reached audiences outside as well as inside Vietnam. Set in a post –war era Duong Thu Huong vividly writes about a poverty stricken Vietnam and attacks the dignity of the Vietnamese Communist Party.

The plot surrounds a woman “Mien” whose husband Bon returns home from war after 14 years. Mien who had presumed her husband dead has now remarried. “Mien” has not only fallen deeply in love with her new husband but has built a family with him. “Mien” is faced with the decision to leave her husband and return to a life of poverty with her first husband “Bon” the war veteran.

Out of fear of humiliation Mien returns to her first husband. Struggling with finding her lost love for Bon Mien is forced to endure her duties as a Vietnamese wife.

Bon’s life post-war is presented as a man who fails with every effort to please his wife. Not only is Bon faced with a doomed family life but his health is on a decline throughout the book as a result of encountering Agent Orange in the war. Bon is weak, incapable of tending to his farm, and fails to bring in any income to support his wife.

The character “Hoan”, Miens second husband is characterized as a wealthy, attractive well sought out man within Vietnam. His struggle begins with a forced marriage and continues as he seeks to reestablish his love with “Mien”.

Duong Thu Huong vividly describes her characters strife through many outlets. Her characters progressively develop and ultimately fall to the hardships faced by those living within the post-war era. Because of this accurate portrayal of the Vietnamese people “No Mans Land” has been banned throughout Vietnam due to its social and political references.

-Danny Hess

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