BAO NINH'S The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam

(Vietnamese edition,

1991, English editions 1993, 1995).


This recent novel has been well received by critics in the American and international press. Your task in your review is to react to the story and the author as writer in the context of our course. The review should be no more than three typed pages in length. It should not consist primarily of a summary of the novel, although you should be able to handle details of the plot, story, and characters accurately in both your review and in the class discussion.

Consider the following questions as you read the novel, and respond to them as you write your review. Does Bao Ninh offer a realistic picture of the war's impact upon the individual soldier? What is the impact of the novel upon you as a student of the Vietnam War? Explain to what extent the author's own war experiences seem to be reflected in the novel. Is the historical base for the novel easily discoverable? Use examples.

In addition, your review should feature your own reactions to the author, his story, his characters, and major themes in the novel. You should evaluate Bao Ninh as a writer, relate his book to other readings and relevant class topics as appropriate, and attempt to explain why this book was so controversial when it first appeared in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Because of the restrictions on the length of your review, you are not required to utilize the comments of earlier reviewers of this work. Your review should be your own work and should not reflect the judgments of other readers.

In presenting your critical analysis, follow these guidelines.

This novel will be discussed in all sections of the ACS Vietnam Experience course. The critical review papers by Richmond students are due on Monday, November 29, and the novel will be discussed on Wednesday, December 1. All students must be present for the class discussion of the novel that day.

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