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Friday, January 23, 2015

Escape from America

As published at OpEd News, Information Clearing House and Intrepid Report, 1/24/15:

Lin Yutang wrote, “What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?” Born in Fujian, Lin also lived in the U.S., France, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, where he’s buried. Whatever attachment Lin had to his childhood stews, fish balls, snails, clams and tofu, it didn’t prevent this remarkable author and inventor of the first Chinese typewriter from globetrotting to improve his mind then, finally, to save his own ass, as his favored Kuomintang got routed by bad-assed Mao.

Should I stay or should I go? Ambrose Bierce glibly defined an immigrant as “an unenlightened person who thinks one country better than another,” but between any two things, types of coffee, meat loafs, races, there is always a value judgment, so one thing is always better or worse than another, though the verdict is never unanimous, for some people are even fond of ingesting egesta, or watching television nonstop, even to the point of leaving it on through the entire night as they sleep, so they can hear it in their dreams, I suppose. My friend T.J. does this. To each his own, then, but since leaving one’s country is never an easy step, logistically or psychologically, let’s examine the reasons for such a radical departure.

Turning his back on all he has known, and his very identity even, an emigrant is fleeing from his inadequate or insufferable government. If hightailing from a war, he’s trying to save his own skin since the state can no longer protect him. At other times, he’s escaping the state itself, for it has become his overt nemesis.

Since Americans have never experienced a Pol Pot, Stalin or Hitler, they can be terribly dismissive of other people’s historical trauma, so on the left, you still have naifs evoking Communism, of the dictatorship of the proletariat variety, as an ideal, while on the right, you have buffoons who mislabel crony capitalism as communism. Some dream of an American reich. Far from objecting to an overbearing state, they only quibble about its objectives, and nearly all have come to accept endless war as a natural American condition, and it is, quite frankly, for when was the last time the U.S. wasn’t fighting or occupying an alien population? I’d say never, but don’t listen to me. Submit your answer for a chance to win an all-inclusive, extended stay at the world-renown restive encampment at tropical Guantanamo!

A totalitarian state is one that can do any damn thing it feels like to you, without you having any recourse to fight back, short of being suicided by cops, and since the U.S.A. can now arrest, torture or kill anyone without due process, and it has, aplenty, it qualifies as such a monstrously criminal state notwithstanding the fact that all appears reasonably normal, sane and civilized, for now. If the law allows, say, a husband to shoot his wife at any moment, then that society has entered into hell even before the first woman has had her brains blown out.

Another clue to the state’s totalitarian pivot is its heavy emphasis on travel restrictions, such as the secretive and illegal no-fly list, its perverted airport groping of infants and centenarians alike, its absurd and arbitrary ban on everything from baby formula to clam sauce, such as happened to me, seriously. Even with the image of spaghetti on the label, the TSA Einstein thought it was a beverage. He actually suggested I drink it.

Like any attacker, a terrorist is liable to hit you where you ain’t heavily guarded, so there’s no reason why he should consider airports when there is an infinity of other targets, and the more random, the more terror generated, for nowhere would be safe. In any case, the only terrorists we should fear are the ones who are recruited and coached or, at the very least, sanctioned by our sinister FBI or CIA. Since it’s no secret our government casually and habitually massacres, should we be surprised that it also butchers innocent Americans? Far from being victims of terrorism, the United States is the world’s leading generator of it.

The primary aim of our transportation security regiment, then, is not to thwart terrorists but to drum into your head that traveling is not a right but a privilege granted by the benevolent state, and if you don’t grovel all the time, everywhere, and not just at airports or train stations, this special dispensation can be abruptly withdrawn.

Chewing on Kim Kardashian’s pumped up derriere and Tom Brady’s deflated balls, most Americans ignore all alarming signs of their nation’s descent into madness, though some have already made the decision to jump ship. Recently, I posed some basic questions to a handful of Americans living overseas, and their candid answers have been eye opening.

Explaining his reason for leaving, Dave, a 38-year-old living in South Korea, confides, “Initially, it was a desire to be able to make a decent living, and an interest in experiencing life in other parts of the world. More recently, I have been thinking about collective guilt in the context of Washington’s foreign policy atrocities. The U.S. government’s support for Ukrainian Nazis and their genocidal campaign against ethnic Russians makes me think that at some point causing suffering will be the last remaining function of the U.S. government.” What a succinct indictment, and the more desperate this government becomes, the more it will massacre, for it’s no longer competent at anything else. With native grumbling exploding into active rebellion, blood baths will also splatter across the Homeland.

Writing from San Luis Potosí, Mexico, Danielle Covarrubias states that she “always knew that the US was a sick society,” and “I remember the day in 5th grade (Westlake School for Girls--bubble within a bubble) when I read in the history book about Manifest Destiny. I was outraged! What? Who said? With what right?” Born in California to a Mexican father and white mother, Covarrubias “never, ever felt like an American or said ‘we’ about the US.” Covarrubias even felt more at home in Greece, where she lived and worked for many years, “I made wonderful, dear friends there. Actually, the time I felt most foreign was when I was invited to some middle-Americans’ house for Thanksgiving in LA. They were nice people, but I felt sooooo foreign there. I actually feel really strange around groups of white people, although I’m half white, look white […] I definitely feel that I don’t belong in that society; they’re just so...different.”

You can be entirely white and feel more at home, or at least more human, in Mexico. Fifty-seven-year-old Brent writes, “People in Mexico are much friendlier than most people in the US.” There, he’s “able to form nice friendships with people I never could have met in the US, both Mexicans and people from the US.” Also, “Families here are kind of like communes, good fortune is shared with less fortunate members. There are good and bad aspects of that, but outright destitution seems fairly rare.”

Several other respondents also point out this easier access to other folks. Writing from Damak, Nepal, Son Ha Dinh observes, “I get to meet and talk to people daily and spontaneously wherever I travel whereas in the States you have to make plan, arrange meeting, confirm time and location etc...Just extra layers we add to our lives that are really unnecessary.” Having moved from Cambridge to Istanbul, Mark and Jolee Zola share that “Turks (along with the country’s minority residents) are very warm, welcoming people.” Intending to stay for just a year, this retired couple have remained in Turkey for nearly seven, and it’s their home now. They’ve learnt the language. Considering that Istanbul is not cheap, its human attraction must be considerable to retain the Zolas.

Having lived in Hanoi for 5 ½ years, San Francisco transplant Jacob Evans relays, “Vietnam in particular is a very human place. People eat on the floor in rooms facing the street with their doors open. When a neighbor dies, black flags are hung outside and a tent is erected where funeral music is played all day and night. The grieving family are wrapped in white cloth and even later they wear black badges to let everyone know about this status. The Viets are constantly looking after one another. A regular greeting is, hi, did you eat yet? I go to the markets and see every part of an animal used. Sidewalks are transformed into eateries, places to drink and gossip. Time is marked by the consumption of rituals. I am constantly full of awe and wonder.” Arriving, Jacob knew just two Vietnamese phrases, “I don’t have any money” and “fuck your mother.” He has enough Vietnamese now for basic interactions.

Obviously, the longer one stays, the more complex or paradoxical any place becomes. Returning to Saigon as an adult, I had to relearn my birthplace, and this is what I said during a 2000 interview, “I think one of the misconceptions I had was that people related to each other better here. All superficial observations, I mean you can see how people live here: they live in close quarters and the neighbors know each other, they have time to talk, the conversation can drag on for three hours, so I thought people had more patience with each other, they liked each other better, sense of family, sense of community, all that shit. But I was also a little skeptical. I didn’t believe it fully. In the States, I didn’t know my neighbors. I hardly knew anyone. I had to go to the bar. I knew my friends at the bar but the people around me I didn’t know. But here, you see people chatting and talking. But after living here a while, I can see that people aren’t quite that social. They might talk, but there’s a lot of animosity, there’s a lot of mistrust, there’s a lot of underhandedness, you know.” Attempting to explain, I continued, “Maybe [it’s] just human nature, maybe people are like that anyway, they just happen to be physically close to each other, but not psychologically close to each other. One thing I’ve noticed is that haggling is a very bad custom. You’re always trying to get over the next person. You’re always haggling. In the States, you’re not worried about being cheated when you go to the supermarket, but here you’re always worrying about being ripped off when you buy anything. So this mind game that’s being played, haggling, haggling, corrupts people. But on the other hand, there’s a conversation.” Had I stayed longer than my 2 ½ years, my observations would evolve further, no doubt, for even with a spouse or, hell, with yourself to your own consciousness, a mask can crack over decades or peel off suddenly, with another mask underneath. Further, just as Atlanta is not Boston, Saigon is not anything like Hanoi.

Moving from sojourner to permanent resident, the immigrant gains gravity and roots, and this is what 47-year-old Joe has done by marrying an English woman and having two kids. Ferdinand Celine wrote, “When you stay too long in the same place, things and people go to pot on you, they rot and start stinking for your special benefit.” It has taken but four years in Great Yarmouth for Joe to sour on England, “i came here with the insane, very stupid idea that i could win over the whole damn town. wrong! and a waste of time and effort. the english will be the english. and they ain't impressed. and god they hate americans. am i a fanatic? yes! but many americans, bless them, loved me! the english love nothing.” And, “i try to make the most of things, so i do make some effort with these gormless, mean little dullards.” In Dickens’ David Copperfield, Peggoty gushes that Great Yarmouth is the ‘finest place in the universe,’ and having visited it often during my 9-month-stay in East Anglia, I’m very fond of this tacky seaside resort with its 14th century, anti-pirate wall, but of course I’ve never had to live there, least of all permanently.

Sometimes, though, your host community will simply reject you. Dave, “South Korean society does not really allow foreigners to become assimilated.” Dave’s social isolation became so agonizing, he turned alcoholic and finally had a psychological breakdown. Recovered, Dave stayed on in South Korea, for he appreciated “how easy and simple life can be,” and his being there “at least partially compensate for wasted years and decades spent in the United States.” It’s quite remarkable, this testimony about one’s native land, the self-trumpeted greatest nation on earth.

Dave, “It was refreshing, and a little intimidating, to be in a place where what might pass for average or even below average intellectual capabilities might generally be regarded as brilliant in the U.S. That is also true for West Africa, where it is no big deal to speak three, four, or even five (mostly unrelated) foreign languages -- and that is for regular people, not academics who specialize in linguistics. The sort of nationalistic chauvinism sometimes found in the U.S. – ‘We're #1!’ is not warranted.”

We’re too self-absorbed and self-infatuated to know that we’re ignorant. Living on a near continent-sized country, and the sick, dark heart of a bombastic empire at that, we see the rest of the world as ridiculous parodies of ourselves, at best. As we’re flung, one by one, from this mirthless roller coaster, however, each of us will come to a new understanding. Our skills and industry are not needed here. Like me, you’ve become a superfluous beggar.

As the criminal state expands, the little people are reduced to squashable ants. Brent, “In the US it’s hard to get any respect, even self-respect, unless you are economically successful. People tend to blame themselves for their failures more so than in many places, and often lose self respect as a consequence. When people lose self respect it causes all sorts of problems, and the media makes it worse with their constant idolatry of the rich, famous, and powerful, who are often just mediocre people with a flair for self publicity or making money. Just because somebody can make a lot of money doesn’t make them a good person or even intelligent, but that’s how the media portrays them. The Protestant Ethic always equated success with closeness to God, but until fairly recently there were a lot of nooks and crannies in the economy and the country where you could live quietly apart from the hustling and just have some tiny little business and live a quiet life. Those places are getting harder to find. Corporatism is out to monetize everything and everybody.”

Exasperated, Joe raves, “america, turn off your fucking tv’s, you are manipulated in ways you can’t imagine. give the indians their land back, fight the evil anglo-american government, take your kids out of school, re-start the sexual revolution, keep looking to the future (america’s greatest strength and uniqueness, this looking forward to a better world), but create the radical, beautiful society that you can and must create! […] i have no hope for america or the world (well, i do, but it’s not the place for that long conversation here). america is too big, for one. It’s now a police/military state. etcetera.”

With some of the world’s highest rates of divorce, teen pregnancy and children born out of wedlock, I’d say the sexual revolution is still (hard) on here, so though the concept of free love arouses me as much as the next guy, I’ve learnt to keep my loins in perspective, as has Joe, by the way, since he’s an upright husband and father. As for the United States being some kind of Utopian project, our opulence and license are a direct result of our unmatched belligerence and rapaciousness. Our open roads are paved over corpses.

As for our egalitarianism, it’s as superficial as this Andy Warhol observation, “What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too.” In spite of our jivey bonhomie among classes, this society is as stratified as any.

This country was built with slave, indentured servant, coolie and sweat shop labor, and after Africans were freed, new, much more powerful black slaves were found in the form of oil. Much of what passes for progress is no more than this petroleum bonanza, but sure, why not, the state will take all the credit for improving your life!

We sucked and we sucked, all over the world, not just here, and after the easy sucking was done, we tried sucking in deeper water or even sideways, into rocks. Our sucking days winding down, we will rediscover hard limits, even social ones, to our lives. As the world’s most indebted nation, we’re essentially the poorest, but thanks to our big guns pointing in all directions, we haven’t had to pay up, and don’t intend to. The rest of humanity, though, won’t let this farce continue much longer. Already intellectually and morally bankrupt, we will also be destitute in the most naked sense. During the next phase of our sexual revolution, a record number of us will be selling our nether parts. To chew and swallow, we will suck from Wall Street to China.

In this permanent war, all-seeing, robo cop state, hundreds of thousands of citizens are already internal refugees shivering in tents, under bridges and on sidewalks. Millions more have emigrated, with more to come in the turbulent years ahead. As for the rest of us, we’ll have to endure the worst of this rogue government in situ. We will die in this dying nation.



Chuck Olroski said...

Linh: After reading people's fascinating Escape stories, I find this a terrific, necessary article.

One point? I note where you consider peoples flight from government (the state), but I run into many local workers who want to flee from their company owners, Plant Managers.

Moments ago, while shoveling 5" of snow, I spoke with a neighbor, male, about 50-years old, who has worked in the modular home building industry for most his life. He told me that he'd have little qualms about killing the company owner, and said, "the world would be a better place for my doing so." He explained how over 75% of his co-workers are stoned on-the-job, and at lunchtime, he could sell his clean urine for $10.00." (NOTE: I actually need an under table, part-time job)

Not to flatter with excess, but you're so insightful and mature in asserting "Americans never experienced life under Stalin and Pol Pot." However, and with full respect for you, glorified President Ronald Regan gave us "Greed is Good," and it appears in support of "The Gipper, there were very powerful and devious people who had MORE than just dreams of building an "American Reich." They developed and implemented plans to do that.

Yeah... you're at WORK and giving me great insight into terrifying developments happening all across the USA. I appreciate that. As you know, I'm in the "for the rest of us" category mentioned at your article's end. And since you asked the excellent question, "When was the last time the US wasn't fighting or occupying an alien population?" -- I will try and convey something.

Egyptian rulers once decided Jews should be driven into the Red Sea. Nowadays, US-Zionists have driven millions of awestruck American workers hopelessly into the Red, and soon alien Benjamin Netanyahu will address the US Congress, and receive multiple standing ovations. What a terrible glitz-hellbroth, Linh? And it occurs to me that the late-Y. Arafat made a good point in saying how Zionists drove hapless Americans into the Potomac.

I wish Hosni Mubarak was around to write about his accumulation of US "foreign aid, the dramatic flight from Egypt, and post his story on your Blog.

Thank you.

Linh Dinh said...

Yo Chuck,

Quite remarkable your detail about dude selling clean urine for $10 a pop. Maybe you should go around construction sites with jars of urine for sale? If you won't do it, I will.

I know an underpaid clothing store security guard who'd steal then give his loot to an underpaid mall security guard to sell to barely-scraping-by mall kiosk owners. The two guards would then split the proceed.

The big guy steals and lies big, the small guy steals and lies small, but guess who's more likely to go to prison?

Linh Dinh, CEO of Clean Piss (most of the time)

Chuck Olroski said...

Dear Mr. Dinh: C.E.O., Clean Piss

I am looking to join a progressive organization which will facilitate my capitalizing on two decades of dodging "randoms" while employed as an Environmental Service, Project Manager. Lately my career seems to be drifting, and today I am delighted to provide you with my resume and three (3) references; refer to attachments.

As the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area is belching with an over-load of lousy jobs and growing population disillusionment, I believe that my domicile,located in Taylor, PA, is central to the two hurting cities, and shall increase my capability to deliver clean piss to a vast market of addicts who need your product in order to pass random drug screening tests.

Also, at age 63, I have the added value of having to "pee" a lot, and I can also serve your company as a major donor. Once we lock into a personal interview and subsequent employment agreement, I shall report to your lab in Philadelphia and submit (in situ) samples of my piss for proper testing. One question, does Clean Piss, Inc. have cameras in bathrooms where urine samples are generated?

Finally, F.Y.I, come March 2015, I plan to purchase warm clothing and return my old Suzuki motorcycle to the road. This bike is equipped with two (2) saddle bags which can feasibly carry and deliver as much as four (4) gallons of Clean Urine to markets, for example, construction sites, as noted above.

Another thing to consider is my forced stability here Taylor, PA, and unless C.I.A sees matters differently, I will not be leaving anytime soon for either Saigon or Istanbul.

I definitely appreciate your interest in me, not many employers do. The other day my family doctor indicated I shall not be dead anytime soon, and I am looking forward to joining Clean Piss, Inc. and bettering myself.

Thank you and sincerely,
Charles Orloski
Taylor, PA

Linh Dinh said...

Dear Applicant,

Despite the preposterously high volume of applications from all 50 states, plus miscellaneous occupied territories, we've decided to take you on--congratulations!--as an unpaid intern for 12 months, after which your unpaid position can be renewed for another 12 months, ad infinitum.

Take it or leave it, motherfucker!


Linh Dinh, CEO of Clean Piss (most of the time)

Linh Dinh said...

An interesting response to this piece at Information Clearing House:

"I fled to Belize in 2007. There is a problem, however; even though we never invaded that country, they still have a decent press, thus, even tho' you're not like the ones you fled from, still, they hate you so bad that all you are is a target. I fled back to the USA after my UK husband (likewise fleeing from HIS country) died in a Belizean hospital staffed by Cubans. I now live in a homeless Motel in Washington State amongst the scum, and I love it; never had so many caring people around me in my life. Sometimes getting knocked a few pegs down is actually getting a leg up. These people are KIND and I know at least 15 neighbors, whom I talk to and share with. Not a possibility in BZ OR in the neighborhood I lived in for 20 years, nor the military where I was groped and demeaned. Seriously? I hate this ufking country, but where can you go? I lived in Mexico for awhile; they hated me; UK hated me too. You're LOST, mate. Is there ANYWHERE they don't despise you? Back to the fort where you can, at least, blend in, I suppose."


Linh Dinh said...


"I've lived over 20 years outside of the US and don't regret it. What passed for culture there began to smell a long time ago, the popularization of violence, aggression, oneupmanship, blind obedience to authority, etc. all seemed transparent as an attempt at social engineering for the benefit of the few. A few in here have voiced their frustrations at not being accepted in their adopted countries, but that's going to be a problem for any expat who still looks like an Amerikan. If you are driving a nice car, living in a nice place, and look like you're living off a fat pension, you will be resented, envied, and a target for exploitation. If however you speak the local language fluently, have children with a local, and work your ass off 70 hours a week like I do, they will tend to accept you and not prey on you as much. There exists a certain camaraderie here too between expats who work in the local economy, as we are forced by privation to maintain a network of mutual support. The better off expats who barely speak the local lingo and sit in their air conditioned condos all day watching Faux News, get robbed by the locals frequently. After several such episodes, many turn tail and head back to the excited states, unaware that when the economy there implodes, they will be far less comfortable by far. At least here if you can fish, catch iguanas, and knock a few coconuts out of the trees, you won't starve. And if the locals here see you're really down, they will feed you, if you have a history of helping them. A few tips for those thinking of jumping ship."


Chuck Olroski said...

Dear Mr. Dinh, C.E.O., Clean Piss, Inc.

Rather than bemoan your < Shylock compensation package, please let me inform you that I accept the fucking disgraceful compensation offer, including payless opportunity to work an additional 12-months for nothing.

I know its unprofessional to start my new job "on-the-wrong-foot," but let me be fucking frank? I never actually bought into your liberal and progressive pretenses which appear almost daily as either Charles Dickens-type photographs or whining "Postcards."

What's more as to the bullshit about a flood of applicants who desire jobs at Clean Piss Inc., I hope you hire Yankees Alex Rodriguez as a donator, his piss samples test hot, poor "Spice" addicted workers get canned, and Wal Mart, with Hillary Clinton on Board of Directors, makes a hostile takeover of your scummy business.

One thing learned from this application process is I can always count count-on a Vietnamese "friend" to fuck me over.

In closing, with professional and common decency in mind, please let me warn you about danger while sitting at Jack's Bar next Christmas, Mr. Gin & Tonic Dinh? Be on look-out for yellow looking and foul SNACKS in the package you get from an out-of-town Evangelist!

Meanwhile, when you return from either kayaking or scuba diving in the Schuylkill, and as my dick is the other upward mobility chance at hand, please let me know when I can start work? Cheers, motherfucker. Yours sincerely in piss,

Charles "Chuck" Orloski
Taylor, PA

Anonymous said...

Chuck, you forgot to tell the big ceo about his Marzipans.

Chuck Olroski said...

Dear Anonymous: Yeah, thank you -- I forgot to throw the marzipans in the C.E.O.'s face. But what you forget is how P.C. discreet I must be when coming on board a Fortune 500 company like "Clean Urine, Inc."

Seriously, think about it, Anonymous -- do you think I was born in an outhouse?

Anonymous said...

Why don't you start a rival firm, Chuck? Become CEO of Sparkling Piss?

Yo Linh, I think there is a small typo: "The rest of humanity, though, won’t let his farce continue much longer." That's supported to be "this" rather than "his," right?

The reality of the end of the article infuriates me. There is NO! REASON! for people to be shivering in tents, under bridges, and on sidewalks. None!

Linh Dinh said...

Yes, just corrected!--Linh

Chuck Olroski said...

Dear Anonymous:

Linh Dinh's "Clean Piss, Inc." is registered as a Minority Owned Business (M.O.B.), and he gets an edge with US government contracts, including global military bases.

However, who can really say I can't compete, and as you say, start "Sparkling Piss, L.L.C." ?
That's a very catchy company name... but I have a question? Do you think I'd have copyright infringement problems if I call my start-up company "Starbucks Piss"?

By the way, Anonymous, do you have a job? I see you can spell very well and also fine tune the competition's articles. As you know, the need for exasperated American workers to dodge random D&A testing is growing. Once I get feet on-ground with Yuengling Dinh's "Clean Piss, Inc.," and get to know the business better, I might dip my Polish member into plastic vials, and have an "entry-level" position opening for you! Please email your resume to me, and if available a background check?

x larry said...

that information clearing house response hit me. know what you mean on many levels, ie the hate in places, and the love, despite it all, in usa, except among certain types, anyone with a business for example, or certain pot smoking gung ho gi janes (well, i knew a couple) that won't tolerate the slightest criticism of usa and who really, really hate anyone with a brain. just be stupid, ra ra usa, make stupid jokes--the brits say 'aving a laugh. when burned out completely, just totally done, after so many years abroad, this was 2004, i went to denver and worked for a hospitality temping agency, where i met every kind of derelict---like you, i loved it! my wife just today, i'm in england, told me her sister said yesterday to her that i looked like a homeless person (my hood on my coat needs two buttons so is almost fallen off). i said, i hope she becomes homeless, why does she pick on people with nothing? and anyone with a conscience, in this system, will basically become homeless. no qualms about lying, ripping people off, exploiting others, thinking we're all enemies anyway, then you'll do well in this system of murderous dogs that the ancestors of the queen and people like that cleverly and brutally devised!


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.