OVERRIDE

We Should Never Meet

Stories

Aimee Phan

Picador

Winner of the Association for Asian American Studies' Book Award
A Kiriyama Prize Notable Book

The interlinked stories that make up We Should Never Meet alternate between Saigon before the city's fall in 1975 and present-day "Little Saigon" in Southern California—exploring the reverberations of the Vietnam War in a completely new light.

Intersecting the lives of eight characters across three decades and two continents, these stories dramatize the events of Operation Babylift, the U.S.-led evacuation of thousands of Vietnamese orphans to America just weeks before the fall of Saigon. Unwitting reminders of the war, these children were considered bui doi, the dust of life, and faced an uncertain, dangerous existence if left behind in Vietnam.

Four of the stories follow the saga of one orphan's journey from the points-of-view of a teenage mother, a duck farmer, and a Catholic nun from the Mekong Delta, a social worker in Saigon, and a volunteer doctor from America. The other four stories take place twenty years after the evacuation and chronicle the lives of four Vietnamese orphans now living in America: Kim, an embittered Amerasian searching for her unknown mother; Vinh, her gang member ex-boyfriend who preys on Vietnamese families; Mai, an ambitious orphan who faces her emancipation from the American foster-care system; and Huan, an Amerasian adopted by a white family, who returns to Vietnam with his adoptive mother.

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

We Should Never Meet
MISS LIENLIEN WAS FIGHTING THEM again. Clawing at their arms, kicking her feet, pushing them away.Go get the boy. This one is strong.She rolled her head from one side to the other. Her skin was slick, sweat squeezing from every pore in her body, but there were still so many hands holding her down. Lien tried to focus on the ceiling. She knew it was dark cement, she remembered that from several hours earlier, but all she saw were bright blues and purples, growing lighter and lighter.Push. Push now.She tried to do what they said, she knew it would make the pain stop. But they
READ THE FULL EXCERPT
BACK

REVIEWS

Praise for We Should Never Meet

"With almost plainsong dialogue and unornamented description that takes you straight to the troubled hearts of these people . . . Phan [builds] an unsentimental, profoundly persuasive portrait of ordinary people making the best of extraordinary, almost inexpressible tragedy."--Elle
 
"Remarkable . . . The stories are indelible yet float past you . . . many complicated issues are brought to life here."--San Francisco Chronicle

"Phan charts [these] journeys with acuity, sensitivity, [and] wisdom."--Los Angeles Times

"Phan accomplishes what only a true artist can: she gives voice to the voiceless and makes them speak for us all. This is a thrillingly important book."--Robert Olen Butler
 
"There is nothing more satisfying for readers than having an author take them to a place they think they know, and then showing them how very little they actually do."--Hartford Courant

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Aimee Phan

  • Aimee Phan was born in 1977 in Orange County, California, and now teaches creative writing at Washington State University, where she is at work on a novel.
  • Aimee Phan Julie Thi Underhill
BACK

READING GUIDE

OTHER GUIDES

Reading Group Guide
BACK

BUY THE BOOK

Available Formats and Book Details

We Should Never Meet

Stories

Aimee Phan

BOOKS FOR COURSES AVAILABLE

BACK

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

BACK