Cover image for Past continuous
Past continuous
Nguyẽ̂n, Khải.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Thời gian của người. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
Willimantic, CT : Curbstone Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
159 pages ; 22 cm.
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Nguyen Khai's documentary novel, Past Continuous, published in the early 1980s before the "doi moi" policy was introduced, gives a fascinating inside view of North Vietnamese views and strategies during the American War in Vietnam. As the three narrators exchange reminiscences, we not only learn about the inner-workings of the liberation movement, but we also see the tensions that developed afterward in their post-war society. The novel dramatizes the histories, adventures, and emotions of three extraordinary people-- a secret agent, a female battalion commander, and a Catholic priest who supported the revolution. In Nguyen Khai, we have a Vietnamese Graham Greene exploring the revolution through the minds of three very different consciousnesses.

Author Notes

Nguyen Khai was born in 1930 in Hanoi and now lives in Ho Chi Minh City. One of Vietnam's best writers, he is the author of fifteen novels and short story collections, and veteran of both the French and American wars.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Winner of the National Prize for Fiction in 1982, Nguyen Khai is a distinguished Vietnamese author with more than 30 books to his credit. This "documentary novel," originally published in the early 1980s and inspired by real people and real events, provides a different angle on the Vietnam War via the story of three friends: Ba Hue, a female commander of the Viet Cong; Quan, a North Vietnamese secret agent; and Vinh, a Catholic priest. Intense and highly political, the novel uses an unnamed narrator, an acquaintance of all three characters, as a medium to piece together their interspersed stories. However, by breaking up the characterization, the author makes the work difficult for general readers to follow. American readers, too, may perceive historical discrepancies in the novelization as being deliberate inaccuracies, but, as Karlin points out in the afterword, these discrepancies result not from an intentional distortion of history but from a difference in perspective between the Vietnamese and the Americans. Overall, this work is best suited to academic libraries, historical or Asian studies collections, and libraries already owning other titles in the series. Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.