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Palawan Story: Memory, Truth & Identity Collide in Compelling Story of Vietnamese Boat People

Written by Caroline Vu, a Vietnamese born author, ‘Palawan Story’ tells the life story and struggle of one Vietnam War escapee. While a work of fiction, Vu’s narrative gives a voice to the two-million Vietnamese people who risked life and limb on the water, in pursuit of a better life elsewhere.


Montreal, QB -- (SBWIRE) -- 05/13/2014 -- As next year marks the fortieth anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, millions of Americans will share their stories and their perspectives with the world. However, the Vietnamese people also have an important voice that seldom gets the attention it deserves. In her compelling new novel, Caroline Vu gives that voice to the Vietnamese Boat People – over two millions natives who fled their country on water after the war.

Under the cover of darkness, Kim, a young girl, is put by her mother on a crowded fishing boat to escape Vietnam. The derelict boat drifts for two weeks on the South China Sea before reaching Palawan, a refugee camp in the Philippines. There, an American immigration officer mistakes Kim for a sponsored orphan with the same name and sends her to America.

In the US, Kim tells her unsuspecting adoptive family the orphan stories they want to hear. While she succeeds in inventing vivid details for her assumed identity, there is a missing page in her own past. The boat trip out of Vietnam is a total blank, and she fears the worse. Years later Kim returns to Palawan as a volunteer doctor. Still haunted by what may have happened on the boat, she begins to record the stories of the other refugees. Through them, she seeks to unblock her suppressed memories.

“This novel gives a vital glimpse into the life of refugees, into their struggles with truth and identity as they attempt to piece together their pasts,” says Vu, a Vietnamese-Canadian who has vivid memories of war playing out on her doorstep. “Cross-cultural stories are very popular these days and timing for this type of narrative has never been better.”

Continuing, “It’s also pertinent to the United States, as an entire generation was affected by the conflict and still suffers the ramifications of it today.”

While packed with fast-paced plots, Vu worked diligently to keep her narrative true-to-life.

“I’ve not over-dramatized anything. It’s actually rather cynical and funny in places, giving Kim and her story a very personable element. This story is authentic. It is about real life; just ask people like myself,” she adds.

‘Palawan Story’, published by Deux Voiliers Publishing, is available now: http://amzn.to/QBeFRe.

About the Author: Caroline Vu
Born in Vietnam, Caroline Vu spent her childhood in Saigon during the height of the Vietnam War. She left Saigon in 1970, moving first to the US, then to Canada. Her childhood memories of war-torn Vietnam and integration into North American life have inspired her two novels: Palawan Story (published by DVP in 2014) and That Summer in Provincetown (an unpublished manuscript). While not a Boat People herself, many of Vu’s family and friends have passed through the refugee camp at Palawan. A passionate traveler, Vu's travel stories of exotic destinations have been published in Doctor's Review. She has also published articles in the Medical Post, the Toronto Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Geneva Times and the Tico Times. She is a family doctor who currently works in Montreal.