Orginal Publication Date
Ethnic Studies Review
This article examines the thematic shifts in three contemporary Vietnamese American novels published since 2003: Monique Truong's The Book of Salt, Dao Strom's Grass Roof, Tin Roof, and Bich Minh Nguyen's Short Girls. I argue that by concentrating on the themes of inferiority and invisibility and issues related to ethnic and racial relationships in U.S. culture (instead of concentrating on the Vietnam War and the refugee experiences), some contemporary Vietnamese American authors are attempting to merge their voices into the corpus of ethnic American literature, which usually is thematically characterized by identity, displacement, alienation, and cultural conflict, etc. Each author explores the problems confronted by individuals caught up in various phases of the Vietnamese diaspora of the twentieth century. These important works are treated primarily thematically, even as the theoretical approaches of various critics are employed to examine those themes. All three novels take Vietnamese American literature in new thematic directions, which signals great promise for future developments. Key words: contemporary Vietnamese American novels, Monique Truong's The Book of Salt, Dao Strom's Grass Roof, Tin Roof, Bich Minh Nguyen's Short Girls, invisible identity.
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