The extremely successful book The Boat by Nam Le could be compared in terms of style and themes to the script of movies such as Crash in that there seems to be an exploration of human nature through the telling of seven separate stories. In each of the stories, Le presents the reader with a main character facing a deeply-ingrained challenge. Each challenge is unique to the salient traits of the character which often has to summon every resource and personal ounce of strength to not become a victim of their own weaknesses. In all, the main purpose of The Boat is to present a study in human strengths and weaknesses, through situations that are uniquely circumstantial and inherent to the psyche of each of the main characters.
One of his most poignant stories is "Cartagena". Set in the cocaine cartels of Colombia, Le explores from the point of view of teenage Colombian guerrilla member "Ron" to what point will the cocaine wars take over the entire persona of the main character; how far will Ron go in the obedience of the Cartel's ways of life when his human side is very much alive as he cares for his mother, has hopes for a better future, and (like any other man), inherently wishes for peace?
Yet,The Boathas something for everybody. In a clever play on perspectives, Le writes the story “Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice” as the starting point of the book, where the main character is named Nam Le as well. Together, both "Le's" share a number of traits, but the story is not meant to be an autobiographical story about Le's life; instead, it is a prelude about Le's plans for writingThe Boat.Hence, he declares that he was suggested to write about Viet Nam and exploit his heritage the way any other market savvy writer would do. Instead, he says that he chose
to write about lesbian vampires and Colombian assassins, and Hiroshima orphans-and New York painters with hemorrhoids.
Aside from this fact, what remains true is thatThe Boatdoes offer that insightful view of humanity through a very clever myriad of points of view which is precisely what earned Nam Le the dozens of different awards that distinguished this novel as the #1 fiction book of 2008, among many other awards.