The Refugees


The Refugees Books review, special features and comparisons

Hardcover, 209 pages

Published:  February 7th 2017 by Grove Press

Original Title: The Refugees

ISBN:  0802126391 (ISBN13: 9780802126399)

Edition Language: English

Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction (2017), Asian/Pacific American Award Nominee for Literature (2018)

From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration.


“In a country where possessions counted for everything, we had no belongings except our stories.”

“The dead move on, but the living, we just stay here.”

“It is not your memories which haunt you. It is not what you have written down. It is what you have forgotten, what you must forget. What you must go on forgetting all your life. James Fenton, “A German Requiem”

“lmost everything looked more beautiful from a distance, the earth becoming more perfect as one ascended and came closer to seeing the world from God’s eyes, man’s hovels and palaces disappearing, the peaks and valleys of geography fading to become strokes of a paintbrush on a divine sphere.”

“I had seen Star Wars a dozen times on video tape, and if anyone was so deprived as to have not watched it even once, then the country in which he lived surely needed a revolution.”

“More than all those people who starved by famine, it was the thought of my mother not remembering what she looked like as a little girl that saddened me.”

“Her routine was as predictable as the rotation of the earth, beginning with how she rapped on my door every morning, at six, six fifteen, and six thirty, until at last I was awake.”

“His habit of forgetting was too deeply ingrained, as if he passed his life perpetually walking backward through a desert, sweeping away his footprints,”


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