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BOOKS: 'The Mountains Sing,' by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

A daughter of Vietnam marks the country's literary breakout

Nguyen Phan Que Mai’s first novel in English is a multi-generational saga charting the ups and downs of a Vietnamese family in a country riven by conflict. (Photo courtesy of Dreamscape Media)

Ask most bookworms to name the best Vietnamese novel and you'll get answers ranging from 2016's "The Sympathizer," by Vietnamese-American Viet Thanh Nguyen, to 1990's "The Sorrow of War," by Bao Ninh.

Which makes Nguyen Phan Que Mai's "The Mountains Sing," the first major novel penned in English by a Vietnamese writer, a breakout moment for Southeast Asia's fastest-growing economy.

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