Set in modern day Hanoi, Vietnam, this dreamy tale reflects on the Communist takeover and a little on the wars with America and France. Old Man Hung is the "enlightened" proprietor of a beloved and illegal pho shop. He survived the political upheaval and has found a way to feed his customers and neighbors through dire poverty. His shop was once a gathering place for a group of artists who started the Beauty of Humanity Movement in response to the increasingly despotic takeover of Ho Chi Minh's regime in the 1950's. Tu, a tour guide, and his father Binh, son of one of the poets from the 1950's, are Hung’s best friends. Maggie is a Vietnamese art dealer who has lived in the U.S. since 1975. She is searching for information about her father, an artist whose hands were mangled in the "re-education movement in the '50s and was not able to escape Vietnam with his wife and daughter in 1975. This is a sweet story about how these very different people relate to one another and to their culture, providing a small window into a world we know little of in this country. Readers who enjoy learning about how historic events affect the lives of everyday people will enjoy this book.
Jul 13, 2011