Paradise of the Blind is an exquisite portrait of three Vietnamese women struggling to survive in a society where subservience to men is expected and Communist corruption crushes every dream. Through the eyes of Hang, a young woman in her twenties who has grown up amidst the slums and intermittent beauty of Hanoi, we come to know the tragedy of her family as land reform rips apart their village. When her uncle Chinh‘s political loyalties replace family devotion, Hang is torn between her mother‘s appalling self–sacrifice and the bitterness of her aunt who can avenge but not forgive. Only by freeing herself from the past will Hang be able to find dignity –– and a future.
Brillant, but culturally challenging to grasp
By Rebecca Rae - June 12, 2005
It's a challenge to really get into the heart of this book. It is easy for critics to praise it as a book that accurately portrays the effects of communism in Vietnam, however one must look far beyond that. The book comments much more on the evolving modern world clashing with traditional customs, or the struggle of family loyalty, then it is a political commentary on communism.
In fact, much of Huong's novel could easily be placed in any other setting and still be able to offer us the same thematic value. While I will not deny that here lies a book that gives us outsiders a wonderful glimpse into Vietnamese culture, something tells me that this was not the intential intention of Huong. The style of the book, and the portrayal of the narrator's mother and sister are all much to realistic for me to believe that this book is souly a commentary on the changing Vietnamese, and I look to all the readers to ask themselves if they cannot identify with the basic human nature... read more
An Uncomprising Critique of "Revolutionary" Vietnam
By Daniel A. Stone - August 29, 2006
A short response to any book by Duong Thu Huong is a good deal like a short response to the Bible--it will be lacking. This is especially the case with Huong's 1988 work Paradise of the Blind, the story of a young Hanoi woman, Hang, forced to give up her university studies and work in the Soviet Union in order to support her mother. This is only half the story though. Hang reached adulthood after the heroic period of the twentieth century in Vietnam, namely the wars for independence and reunification, as well as the revolution. These events led to colossally momentous experiences in the lives of Hang's family--her mother and aunt whom she loves and the uncle she hates--so profoundly shaping were the experiences of these times that there consequences for Hang's family have nearly as deep consequences for her own life. Ultimately the only way that Hang is able to escape the chains bind her family members to the past is by abandoning her connection to the it.
The book Paradise of the Blind describes the hardships of three young Vietnamese women. Paradise of the Blind is a very interesting and truthful book that allows readers to understand what Vietnamese go through daily. Written by Dyong Thu Huong, Paradise of the Blind goes in great depths describing the Vietnamese's idealistic hope and betrayal of Communism. This book focuses on the life of a young lady, Hang, and her relationship with both her mothers and fathers relatives. Hang is a twenty-year-old exported worker in Russia, who has a series of flashbacks. On her train ride to Moscow, Hang recalls how her uncle Chinh tore her family apart and destroyed the relationship between her and her mother. Her mother Que moved to Hanoi and became a street vendor because of the land reforms. Hang blames her uncle Chinh for her father's departing, her Aunt Tam becoming poor, and her mother becoming a street vendor. She realizes that she can only move on with her life and succeed only... read more