Sep 29, 2016
The latest publication from Humboldt State University Press, “Võ Phiến and the Sadness of Exile,” describes the life and work of one of the most respected writers in the Vietnamese diaspora, Võ Phiến.
In the first book-length study in English of a modern Vietnamese writer, emeritus English professor John Schafer introduces a new perspective to European colonialism and the revolution to overthrow it, the spread of communism and the attempts to suppress it, and the flight of people across the earth to escape war and political upheaval. Võ Phiến’s story is sad and beautiful and distinctly Vietnamese, but one that inextricably addresses the currents of war and exile across the modern world.
“When water buffaloes fight, flies and mosquitoes get killed.” The phrase speaks to the dangers of living where political and military battles funded by the major powers take place. We hear the buffaloes’ perspective, but rarely from those like Võ Phiến who grew up in Bình Định, a province that was a battleground for a quarter of a century. “Võ Phiến’s achievement,” Schafer says, “was that he took country characters, ordinary people who were not heroic or physically attractive, and made readers see beauty in them.”
Võ Phiến wrote over forty books and published works by other exiled writers to give voice to the voiceless, both from his homeland and as an exile in America. Now English-speaking readers can experience for themselves one of the great writers of the Vietnamese exile community.
Proceeds from the sale of the print version will support the Library Scholars Internship program, which makes open-access publishing at Humboldt State University Press possible.
Reviews of the book depict the intricate tapesty Võ Phiến creates with his writings:
“In John Schafer’s book we meet a host of fascinating characters created by Võ Phiến, a writer with a keen appreciation for the lives of the ordinary Vietnamese who endured the trials of wars and then went into the lonely void of exile. Schafer’s book opens a door to a secret Asian world that most of us would otherwise never be able to enter.” — Barry Hillenbrand, Correspondent TIME magazine, Saigon Bureau 1972-74
“John Schafer’s Võ Phiến and the Sadness of Exile is essential reading for students of modern Vietnamese literary history as well as a major contribution to scholarship on post-colonial literature, Asian-American studies, and the social and cultural history of the Vietnam War.” — Peter Zinoman, Associate Professor, Southeast Asia History: Vietnam, University of California, Berkeley
“Võ Phiến and the Sadness of Exile is a lucidly written stimulating, and novel study of Võ Phiến and his literary works. It demonstrates a high, intense level of scholarship on Vietnamese literature and reflects meticulous research.” Quang Phu Van, Senior Lector II, Vietnamese Language Studies, Yale University
About the Humboldt State University Press
Humboldt State University Press launched October 19, 2015 with the internationally acclaimed children’s non-fiction book, The Extraordinary Voyage of Kamome. Humboldt State University Press publishes a broad scope of print and electronic publications which showcase HSU research and scholarship. All electronic publications are available on the Digital Commons @ Humboldt State University platform, a network which brings together free, electronic scholarly texts from hundreds of universities and colleges around the world.
“At Humboldt, we want to make a difference, and open access publishing aligns with our vision for social justice and sustainability by reducing costly barriers to connect author and reader, teacher and learner,” explains Cyril Oberlander, Humboldt State University Library Dean.
For questions or further information about Humboldt State University Press, please contact HSU Scholarly Communications Librarian, Kyle Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.