Vietnam has a rich past and culture beyond the Vietnam War. Some of the best writers across generations have documented this culture. Different authors have focused on individual elements, giving readers a chance to explore one of the most culturally rich countries in the world today.
The Vietnamese culture can be seen through the prisms of different historical eras. There is a prehistoric culture that is indigenous to the people of Vietnam. You will also find traces of dynastic history where rulers defined the way of life. The French also had a stint and left a mark. The Vietnam War had its share of influence on Vietnamese culture.
Here are books that capture Vietnamese culture from different and interesting perspectives.
A Dragon Apparent
Norman Lewis was one of the few courageous Westerners who traveled to Southeast Asia and documented his encounter in the 20th century. A Dragon Apparent was written when many explorers could not venture into the area for fear of exorcism. It is a collection of experiences and insights into people’s lives in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia, among other Southeast Asian regions.
The book points to cultural conflicts between the French and locals during colonial days. The encounters help the reader to understand the tactics used by colonial French to overpower the people in Vietnam. It was such an inspiring experience that novelist Graham Green produced much work on Vietnam. You can buy literature review online to boost your grades and give you more free time to work on personal projects.
The French were at the peak of colonizing Vietnam in 1936 when Dumb Luck was published. Vu Trong Phung produced satire to awaken his people and reveal the oppression happening in Vietnam to the world. The book also seeks to demonstrate the international community’s ineffectiveness in intervening in local matters.
The book attracted considerable international attention. Because of foreign influence, it was banned several times until 1986. The book sheds light on the fascial rise of a common drifter mistaken for being very wise. The reader follows the life of an ordinary man rising from the streets to owning mansions and expansive estates. Through the fascinatingly satirical narrative, the author exposes different facets of life in Vietnam under French influence.
The Quiet American
Norman Lewis inspired Graham Green to explore Vietnam in detail. The Quiet American is a fictional book about post-WWII Vietnam. It is an exciting love triangle between France, Vietnam, and an increasingly expanding world.
The book uses a strong narrative voice. It was written at the Continental Hotel, which is still standing. It is interesting to see a society fractured by a conflict of cultures.
The Vietnam War had a significant impact on the culture of the Vietnamese. Viet Thanh Nguyen published the book in 2015, making it one of the latest in the collection about Vietnam. It is the war that led to the fall of Saigon. Consequently, people interacted with foreigners, and the world learned about Vietnam. You learn about Vietnam from a double agent who escapes to the US. The influence of the war on Vietnamese culture is evident.
Ticket to Childhood
Over half of the Vietnamese population is below 35. They, therefore, have a reason to return to childhood through the mind of Nguyen Nhat Anh. It was released in 2014 and captured global attention instantly. The novel defines Vietnamese culture through another prism beyond the war and takes you to an ordinary yet fascinating countryside life through the lens of a farmer’s kid.
Final Thoughts on Books about the Culture in Vietnam
Many other writers have written about Vietnam. The books take different perspectives, from foreigners to locals. It is interesting to see different characters living through the generations of Vietnamese society.