Wild Mustard

Wild Mustard

New Voices from Vietnam
Edited by Charles Waugh, Nguyen Lien, and Van Giá

Wild Mustard, an anthology of prizewinning short fiction by contemporary Vietnamese writers, throws into relief the transformations of self and place that followed Vietnam’s turn toward a market economy. In just three decades, since the 1986 policy known as doi moi (renovation) ended collectivization and integrated Vietnam into world markets, the country has transformed from one of the poorest and most isolated on earth into a dynamic global economy. The nineteen stories in this volume capture the kaleidoscopic experiences of Vietnam's youth, navigating between home and newly expanded horizons, as they seek new opportunities through migration, education, and integration not only into their nation but into the world.

In the tradition of the "Under 40" collections popularized by magazines such as the New Yorker and Granta, but with greater stakes and greater differences between the previous generation of writers and this new one, Wild Mustard seeks to change how North American readers think of Vietnam. Escaping the common fixation on the Vietnam War and its aftermath, these stories reflect the movement and dynamism of the young Vietnamese who locate themselves amid the transnational encounters and proliferating identities of a global economy.
About the Author

CHARLES WAUGH is an associate professor of English at Utah State University. In 2012, he received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for his work in literary translation, which led to the compilation of this anthology. With Nguyen Lien he is the coeditor and cotranslator of Family of Fallen Leaves: Stories of Agent Orange by Vietnamese Writers (2010).
NGUYEN LIEN was a writer, translator, scholar, and teacher who championed world literature in translation for nearly fifty years. He translated many international works of literature into Vietnamese, including Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie and Pat Conroy's The Prince of Tides, as well as the textbook A Contemporary Approach to American Culture. With Charles Waugh he is the coeditor and cotranslator of Family of Fallen Leaves: Stories of Agent Orange from Vietnamese Writers (2010).

VAN GIA is the dean of the Faculty of Creative Writing at the University of Culture in Hanoi A professional journalist as well as a beloved teacher, he is a prolific author of literary reviews and nonfiction essays.

"This is Vietnam: a place that is raw, sensual, desperate, hopeful, struggling, furious, sorrowful, and more, a culture marked by complicated surges of feeling that a casual visitor can only glimpse but which a native knows so well. From country to city and from the past to the present, these powerful, vividly translated stories illuminate a vibrant, conflicted society that is electric with emotion." —Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of The Sympathizer and Nothing Ever Dies  

"Covering an important and influential economic time in Vietnamese history, Wild Mustard goes beyond the imagined by expanding on cultural awakenings, increased technological pursuits, and educational advancements within the post–Vietnam War era." —World Literature Today

“This beautiful collection of short stories introduces a new side of Vietnam that pulls it out of the historical prison of the Vietnam War, where it’s been trapped for the last forty years. While the stories are specific to Vietnam, they are written in such a way that Anglophone readers of this translation can relate to, which makes them so relevant and important." —Christina E. Firpo, author of The Uprooted: Race, Children and Imperialism in French Indochina, 1890–1980

"The first anthology to focus on Vietnamese writers born after the Vietnam War, Wild Mustard makes you realize that whatever you thought you knew about Vietnam and its literature is woefully out of date. This is an important and necessary collection, one that shows Vietnamese fiction to be not only vibrant and alive, but also a very different creature than what you thought it was." —Brian Evenson, author of A Collapse of Horses

"It may seem strange to us, who tend to think of Vietnam as the name of a war, that most of those living there today were born after the war ended. These are their stories, and the rich, complicated Vietnam they depict generates surprise on every page." —John Balaban, author of Remembering Heaven's Face: A Story of Rescue in Wartime Vietnam