A stunningly inventive, deeply moving fiction debut: stories that take us from the slums of Colombia to the streets of Tehran; from New York City to Iowa City; from a tiny fishing village in Australia to a foundering vessel in the South China Sea, in a masterly display of literary virtuosity and feeling.
In the magnificent opening story, “Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice,” a young writer is urged by his friends to mine his father’s experiences in Vietnam—and what seems at first a satire of turning one’s life into literary commerce becomes a transcendent exploration of homeland, and the ties between father and son. “Cartagena” provides a visceral glimpse of life in Colombia as it enters the mind of a fourteen-year-old hit man facing the ultimate test. In “Meeting Elise,” an aging New York painter mourns his body’s decline as he prepares to meet his daughter on the eve of her Carnegie Hall debut. And with graceful symmetry, the final, title story returns to Vietnam, to a fishing trawler crowded with refugees, where a young woman’s bond with a mother and her small son forces both women to a shattering decision.
Brilliant, daring, and demonstrating a jaw-dropping versatility of voice and point of view, The Boat is an extraordinary work of fiction that takes us to the heart of what it means to be human, and announces a writer of astonishing gifts.
* A breathtakingly assured collection of stories-powerful, moving, unsparingly honest-exhibiting a narrative confidence and range that is as remarkable as it is mature. A tremendous debut. -- William Boyd * A promising and fiercely talented writer Telegraph * The short story collection is constantly on the endangered list, but this stunning collection...shows that it is alive and in the best of health. The Times * An assured and tremendously readable collection from a young writer with rare scope and strength. Observer * These are people on the edge, and Nam's prose captures their desperation...bold and worthwhile. Memoirists should stick to what they know; the point of literature is to expand the limits of the world. -- Aravind Adiga Financial Times * Le has the ability to hit notes of real emotional intensity. -- Hari Kunzru Scotsman * Each voice is achingly present and authentic ... ['Halflead Bay'] is as good as anything Tim Winton has produced about Australian society. Guardian * Wonderful stories that snarl and pant across our crazed world ... an extraordinary performance by a fine new talent. Nam Le is a heartbreaker, not easily forgotten. -- Junot Diaz * The Boat is tremendous, challenging and ambitious, worthy of the same shelf that holds Dubliners and The Things They Carried-like those works, it asks to be read as a whole and taken seriously as a book... this book nails our collective now, our kairos, with an urgency and relevance that feels visionary. Charles D'Ambrosio * From the very first page of The Boat, Nam Le's extraordinary talent, range of vision, and moral courage make the reader sit up and take notice. By the last page, one feels a kind of fervent gratitude-rare enough these days-for having been introduced to a young writer whose mark on the literary world, so freshly made, will only grow deeper in the years to come. John Burnham Schwartz * Nam Le writes with a rare blend of courage and beauty ... Book your passage on The Boat. You will not forget the people you meet on the voyage. Chris Offutt * The Boat is an impressive feat, and the debut of a very talented writer. Adam Haslett * I was impressed and deeply moved by the many worlds to which this brilliant young writer transported me. A terrific book. Margot Livesey * A superb collection, brimming with humour and compassion. -- Ian Critchley Daily Telegraph 20090207 * Le's book takes a playful swipe at the good intentions of liberal America. Independent 20090227
A remarkable debut collection from a prize-winning and highly promotable author