This essay addresses the controversial reception of Bảo Ninh’s novel Nỗi buồn chiến tranh [The Sorrow of War] in Vietnam and argues that the novel was perhaps the most important fictional work since Đổi Mới [Renovation]. By overlooking the tenets of socialist realism, the book deals with the war and its aftermath with a candor, eloquence, and anguish that have no parallel in modern Vietnamese literature. The novel’s important questions—memory, time, and writing—can be explained in light of Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the chronotope.

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