A Short Story

This short story comes from Nam Le’s book of short stories titled “The Boat.”This story is based loosely on Nam Le’s life. His young life, as he is not quite 30 years old.

Nam’s family are immigrants from Vietnam. They live in Melbourne Australia, but Nam leaves his job as a lawyer and moves to Iowa to attend a writer’s school. His father, who lives in Sydney Australia has come to visit him. Why, Nam is not sure. Nam has a deadline breathing down his back to write a story and a case of writers block. This is one of the worst possible times his father could have chosen to visit.

Nam’s father was very strict when he was growing up. He was expected to study 10 hours per day, even during summer break. No girlfriends were allowed, period. He has not told his father about his American girlfriend and doesn’t plan too. However, his girlfriend doesn’t seem too concerned about this.

This is a complex story with several themes running through it. There’s the immigrant / ethnic experience, Vietnam war/US atrocities, and love relationships. The central theme in the story is that of the father / son relationship.

With all of these complex issues, I wasn’t convinced that Le would be able to pull this off as a short story. I was pleasantly surprised to see how successful he was. His swift prose runs seamlessly through this story. Could he make it into a novella or novel? In my opinion, yes. However, this is Nam Le’s first book. I would love to see him write a novel in the future, but this will do quite nicely for now! Even better, I have the rest of this book of short stories to read yet.


If you are interested in reading Love and Honour and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice by Nam Le, You can read it in its entirety here.

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