Despite the official conclusion of the Vietnam War, the struggle for remembrance and recollection endures. Within the pages of The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen offers a transnational lens through which to examine the formation and contestation of collective memories between the United States and Vietnam. Despite its military defeat, the United States appropriated anti-communist ideology during the Cold War era to assimilate the refugee community, leveraging a discourse of “freedom and democracy” as a means to reshape historical narratives. In stark contrast, Vietnam commemorated its revolutionary struggle against imperialism through the establishment of museums, statues, and public cemeteries within its borders, systematically erasing South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians from the annals of history. Remarkably, Nguyen’s fictive portrayal centers on the frequently marginalized civilian community, whose encounters offer glimpses into the potential dismantling of national dichotomous narratives. This creative endeavor opens up avenues for the reinterpretation of the multifaceted complexities and nuances embedded within ordinary lives.
"Memory, Politics, and Literary Imagination in Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Refugees,"
Asian American Literature: Discourses & Pedagogies: Vol. 12, Article 8.
Available at: https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/aaldp/vol12/iss1/8