'The Boat raises the bar for Australian writing.' Peter Craven, Heat
'Nam Le is . . . a disturber of the peace.
'Consider the subjects of his stories: a child assassin in Colombia ('Cartagena'), an ageing New York artist desperate for a reconciliation with his daughter ('Meeting Elise'), a boy's coming of age in a rough Victorian fishing town ('Halflead Bay'), before the first atomic bomb falls in Japan ('Hiroshima'), The suffocations of theocracy in Iran ('Tehran Calling'). This astonishing range is topped and tailed by accounts of the uneasy reunion of a young Vietnamese writer in America with his ex-soldier father, and by the title story - the escape of a group of exhausted refugees from the Vietcong in a wallowing boat.
'One might be permitted to think, after all this high seriousness and intensity, Nam Le can't do funny. But this criminally talented 29-year-old can do that as well.' Barry Oakley, Australian Literary Review
'A fearless new Australian voice that accepts no geographical limits: these are stories of leaping power and the most breath-taking grace and intimacy.' Helen Garner
'Wonderful stories that snarl and pant across our crazed world . . . an extraordinary performance. Nam Le is a heartbreaker, not easily forgotten.' Junot Diaz
'The fiction debut of the year.' James Ley, Australian Book Review
'The best book debut of 2008.' New York Magazine
'The runaway literary success of 2008.' Weekend Australian
From a Colombian slum to the streets of Tehran, seven characters in seven stories struggle with very particular Swords of Damocles in Pushcart Prize winner Le's accomplished debut. In Halflead Bay, an Australian mother begins an inevitable submission to multiple sclerosis as her teenage son prepares for the biggest soccer game of his life. The narrator of Meeting Elise, a successful but ailing artist in Manhattan, mourns his dead lover as he anticipates meeting his daughter for the first time since she was an infant. The opening Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice features a Vietnamese character named Nam who is struggling to complete his Iowa Writer's Workshop master's as his father comes for a tense visit, the first since an earlier estrangement shattered the family. The story's ironies You could totally exploit the Vietnamese thing, says a fellow student to Nam are masterfully controlled by Le, and reverberate through the rest of this peripatetic collection. Taken together, the stories cover a vast geographic territory (Le was born in Vietnam and immigrated to Australia) and are filled with exquisitely painful and raw moments of revelation, captured in an economical style as deft as it is sure.