CSM Professor Emeritus Wayne Karlin recently interviewed celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai about her first novel in English. His literary webinar crossed time zones to let viewers watch Karlin participate from the United States while Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai was online from Munich, Germany.
The program (view below) highlighted the novel, ‘The Mountains Sing’ by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, which tells an enveloping, multi-generational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việtnam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.
According the novel’s book cover, the story is “vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.”
Karlin, of St. Mary’s City, is an award-winning author and former faculty member with more than 30 years’ connection to the college. He is the recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, five State of Maryland Individual Artist Awards in Fiction, the Paterson Prize in Fiction, the Vietnam Veterans of America Excellence in the Arts Award and the Juniper Prize for Fiction for 2019 for his novel “A Wolf by the Ears.” This most recent novel will be published by University of Massachusetts Press in 2020.
A decorated Vietnam veteran, Karlin served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1963 to 1967. His experiences there and his reaction to those experiences have played a major role in the themes of his subsequent work.
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