The Gangster We Are All Looking For by Lê Thi Diem ThúyThis acclaimed novel reveals the life of a Vietnamese family in America through the knowing eyes of a child finding her place and voice in a new country.
In 1978 six refugees—a girl, her father, and four “uncles”—are pulled from the sea to begin a new life in San Diego. In the child’s imagination, the world is transmuted into an unearthly realm: she sees everything intensely, hears the distress calls of inanimate objects, and waits for her mother to join her. But life loses none of its strangeness when the family is reunited. As the girl grows, her matter-of-fact innocence eddies increasingly around opaque and ghostly traumas: the cataclysm that engulfed her homeland, the memory of a brother who drowned and, most inescapable, her father’s hopeless rage.
The Gangster We Are All Looking For
One of the parts of the story that stuck with me the most was a topic we covered briefly in class on Wednesday 18 November : the deletion of the narrator from most of the ending of the novel. This notion is important to the interpretation of this chapter, because when read from this ideology the story can almost be put into a third person narrative category. I visualize this scene as though there is a video of the event occurring on a screen in front of me and the narrator is sitting with me describing what happens as it happens on the screen. To me this phrasing does not just encompass that the narrator was looking out to sea, but either she had been present in the same area as her family during this scene and was a bystander or perhaps she herself deleted herself from the scene. I think it is an important idea that we take into consideration that the narrator could have deleted herself from the ending of this novel willingly.
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