Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong is an exceptional portrayal of Vietnamese life, the beauty of memories, and the trials of balancing culture with identity.
This novel is a bildungsroman for a girl named Hang as she tells the story of her family across generations, starting 10 years before she was born. The pain and betrayal that wracked her mother and father’s lives seeps into her childhood experiences and her attitude as an adult. Family is everything in Vietnam, but it is what slowly tears Hang apart and unravels her future until she breaks free from the traditions and blazes her own path.
I love this novel not only for it’s meaningful story, but also for the insight into a culture so different from mine. The importance of food, ancestors, and body language is radically different and Huong was able to weave the threads of her own life into the plot of Hang’s to reveal what living in Vietnam was really like. It is a deeply moving story that makes you question your own values and whether family is all that matters.
Ivy B. Lake