Cover Image: Catinat Boulevard

Catinat Boulevard

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Member Reviews

I requested an advance review copy of this book because I’d read and enjoyed Vu’s first novel, Palawan Story. I saw that the author’s writing had certainly matured, but the content of this new work of fiction did not engage me in the least. I was not interested in the main character’s schoolteacher-father’s predation on his 16-year-old private student (which reads like pornography), and I was even less taken with the story of the teenage protagonist’s sexual liaison with an eagle-tattooed American soldier in 1970s Saigon. Unwilling to invest more time in this slow-moving, sex-focused story with its dull, superficial characters, I abandoned the book with relief at page 61. Vu gave me no reason to plod through a few hundred more pages. A disappointment.

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Catinat Boulevard is one of the most touching novels I have ever read. Told from a child's perspective, it recreates a world lost to history, a world where love, adventure and rebellion reigned free despite the ravages of destruction. Among the many Vietnamese writers in North America today, Caroline stands out for her daring humour, her challenges to social conventions and her evocative prose.

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I know that this book is trying to tell it like it is… but the way it’s written is just… off.
I’m not sure how to explain it completely. But near the beginning there’s a point where his mother not remembering the bombing as a child but remembering the monk was “ADHD” the treatment of others characters is just… some characters who do bad things are condemned by it, makes sense, but victims are almost an afterthought.
The way it’s written also feels so removed. Just not for me.

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