Dust Child

Hachette Audio. Mar. 2023. 12:28 hrs. ISBN 9781649041425. $31.99. F
Nguyên’s emotional sophomore novel illuminates the traumatic legacy of the Vietnam War. Vietnamese American narrator Quyen Ngo, who also voiced Nguyên’s Audie finalist The Mountains Sing, offers a stunning performance as she immerses listeners in the stories of three individuals whose wartime connections reverberate into the present day. Tân Phong, the child of a Vietnamese woman and a Black U.S. soldier, was raised in a Catholic orphanage, shunned by most of Vietnamese society. Phong hopes to immigrate with his family to the United States through the Amerasian Homecoming Act in 2016, but his application is repeatedly denied. Meanwhile, Dan, a white man who piloted helicopters during the war, returns to Vietnam 40 years later, seeking a woman he knew as Kim, whom he abandoned after she became pregnant. Ngo’s vocal range is magnificent, moving from sensitive depictions of quiet moments between lovers to plumbing the depths of anguish as these wounded people voice their sorrow, rage, and bewilderment. In a novel emphasizing the chasms wrought by culture and language, Ngo nimbly navigates between English and Vietnamese, allowing listeners to hear the rhythm and complexities of both languages.
VERDICT This deeply affecting audio is a triumph and an essential purchase everywhere.
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