Saigon Calling: London 1963-75

Marcelino Truong's Such a Lovely Little War provided a child's perspective of the early years of the Vietnam War, culminating in the family's flight to London after the assassination of South Vietnamese President Diem in 1963. Its follow-up, Saigon Calling: London 1963-75, describes Marco's coming-of-age in late 1960s England, where his siblings struggled to endure their mother's mental illness while witnessing the fall of South Vietnam.

The Truong family settles in London after leaving war-ravaged Vietnam. The chaos has affected each family member differently. Yvette's mental illness terrorizes them all, while Papa, having left behind his lucrative ambassadorial duties with the government, struggles to support his family as a French-to-English newspaper translator. Older sister Mireille becomes a hippie and participates in the peace movement. Marco continues to play war games with brother Dominique while reveling in the excitement of British mod subculture, much to their mother's intense disapproval. His personal connections to Vietnam, and to the friends and family members threatened by the escalating violence and muddled politics, are never far from his mind.

Truong contrasts monochromatic watercolors with bright imagery to depict opposing cultural pulls. The art is crisp and stylized; the text emotive and reflective. While his sympathies lie with the South, Truong is critical of American involvement, whose actions would culminate in the persecution of millions of Vietnamese citizens.

Saigon Calling is an intimate and courageous piece of storytelling. It provides insight into the suffering that Vietnamese expatriates endured, especially those of mixed race heritage, and of the painful bonds forged with their past, present and future. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

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