We Should Never Meet by Aimee Phan
Compelling, moving, and beautifully written, the interlinked stories that make up We Should Never Meet alternate between Saigon before the city’s fall in 1975 and present-day "Little Saigon" in Southern California—exploring the reverberations of the Vietnam War in a completely new light. Intersecting the lives of eight characters across three decades and two continents, these stories dramatize the events of Operation Babylift, the U.S.-led evacuation of thousands of Vietnamese orphans to America just weeks before the fall of Saigon. Unwitting reminders of the war, these children were considered bui doi, the dust of life, and faced an uncertain, dangerous existence if left behind in Vietnam. Four of the stories follow the saga of one orphan’s journey from the points-of-view of a teenage mother, a duck farmer and a Catholic nun from the Mekong Delta, a social worker in Saigon, and a volunteer doctor from America. The other four take place twenty years later and chronicle the lives of four Vietnamese orphans now living in America: Kim, an embittered Amerasian searching for her unknown mother; Vinh, her gang member ex-boyfriend who preys on Vietnamese families; Mai, an ambitious orphan who faces her emancipation from the American foster-care system; and Huan, an Amerasian adopted by a white family, who returns to Vietnam with his adoptive mother.We Should Never Meet is one of those rare books that truly takes an original look at the human condition—and marks the exciting debut of a major new writer for our time.