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Such a Lovely Little War - Saigon, 1961-63

Such a Lovely Little War

Saigon, 1961-63

By Marcelino Truong
Translated by David Homel
Categories: Youth Culture, Biography & Memoir, History, Graphic Novels & Non-Fiction, BIPOC, Asian Literature
Paperback : 9781551526478, 280 pages, 2016
Read Excerpt (PDF)


This riveting, beautifully produced graphic memoir tells the story of the early years of the Vietnam War as seen through the eyes of a young boy named Marco, the son of a Vietnamese diplomat and his French wife. The book opens in America, where the boy's father works for the South Vietnamese embassy; there the boy is made to feel self-conscious about his otherness thanks to schoolmates who play war games against the so-called "Commies." The family is called back to Saigon in 1961, where the father becomes President Ngo Dinh Diem's personal interpreter; as the growing conflict between North and South intensifies, so does turmoil within Marco's family, as his mother struggles to grapple with bipolar disorder.

Visually powerful and emotionally potent, Such a Lovely Little War is both a large-scale and intimate study of the Vietnam War as seen through the eyes of the Vietnamese: a turbulent national history intertwined with an equally traumatic familial one.


Truong shows his command of both text and visuals, as his boyhood provides a compelling perspective on the beginnings of a war that would have such devastating impacts on Southeast Asia and America alike ... A first-rate work of graphic memoir dealing with a pivotal period in modern American history. -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Truong forcefully recreates his saga using a bold, blocky visual style and a muted color palette that deftly renders his family members and vividly captures crowded Saigon cityscapes and besieged countryside. -Booklist

What holds the book together is Truong's artwork: confident, contoured brush strokes with watercolor washes, alternating between full color and monochromatic tints. He shows us that what was happening in Vietnam was a nightmare, but also that his youthful perspective made it seem, at the time, like an adventure. -New York Times

A riveting graphic memoir ... Perhaps the passage of time has added an objective and journalistic vantage point for this eyewitness account, making a pivotal moment in American, French and Vietnamese history so meaningful and gripping. -Shelf Awareness

A terrific graphic novel ... [Given] American film representations of Vietnam (from Apocalypse Now and Platoon to Full Metal Jacket and Hamburger Hill) have become the de facto popular truth of that war, Truong's nuanced account offers an absorbing counter-narrative.

Truong's art has an appealing simplicity - it's deceptive, drawing the reader into the idiosyncrasy of each character's expression. This artistic presence, this human touch, makes Truong's world - the explosions from within and without - so much more immediate.
-Quill and Quire

A gorgeous graphic memoir ... This story of one family during a horrible war is powerful, managing to be both broad and intensely intimate at the same time. -Book Riot

Such a Lovely Little War is a remarkable graphic novel that engages both heart and head, and Truong's artwork provides an abstracted realism that perfectly reinforces both the viewpoint of a six year-old, and the edge-softening effect of memory. Providing a unique look into the early years of the Vietnam War, Such a Lovely Little War is not to be missed.

A beautifully illustrated tale that packs a surprising punch. -Mother Jones