Duong Thu Huong Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The Communist government of Vietnam banned Duong Thu Huong’s book Paradise of the Blind shortly after its publication. Find specific instances in the text which would have been objectionable to the Communist censors.

The women in Paradise of the Blind are all subservient to the wishes and commands of the men in their families. Show how this is true for the three main characters—Hang, Tam, and Que.

Find several instances in the novel where capitalism and free enterprise are in contrast to the principles of Communism as a political theory.

Look closely at chapter 6 in Paradise of the Blind, in which the families celebrate the most important holiday on the Vietnamese calendar, Tet. What are the particular traditions, such as food, that are part of the celebration?

The novel has three main settings: Hanoi, the countryside village, and Russia. How do the respective settings abet meaning and character development?

Food is central to life and culture in Vietnam. Find episodes where the preparation and consumption of food reveal this centrality.

The author uses flashbacks throughout the narrative not only to recall events from Hang’s childhood but also to explain events before her birth. Locate instances of this and speculate about why Duong did not provide a straightforward, chronological narrative.

At the end of the novel, translators have provided “A Glossary of Vietnamese Food and Cultural Terms” in the English translation. Tie specific entries in the glossary to occurrences in the plot.


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Blodgett, Harriet. “The Feminist Artistry of Paradise of the Blind.World Literature Today 75, nos. 3/4 (Summer/Autumn, 2001): 31-39.

Charle, Suzanne. “Good Morning, Vietnam: Novels by Duong Thu Huong.” Harper’s Bazaar (May, 1993): 60.

Eads, Brian. “She Dares to Live Free.” Reader’s Digest 153, no. 918 (October, 1998): 158-164.

“Enemy of the State: Novelist Duong Thu Hong Rails Against Her Country’s Communist Rulers.” People Weekly 53, no. 17 (May 1, 2000): 99.

Karolides, Nicholas J. Literature Suppressed on Political Grounds. New York: Facts On File, 2006.

Saur, Pamela S. “Huong’s Paradise of the Blind.” The Explicator 60, no. 4 (Summer, 2002): 239-241.

Shenon, Philip. “In This Author’s Book, Villains Are Vietnamese: Novelist Duong Thu Huong.” The New York Times, April 12, 1994, p. A4.