cover image The Three Fates

The Three Fates

Linda Le. New Directions, 15.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-8112-1610-4

French-Vietnamese–born Lê (Slander) weaves a dense, lush tale exploring the chasm between West and East, between the lives of pampered immigrants and the family left behind. Three young French-Vietnamese women—two sisters, one cousin—conspire over a boring summer Sunday afternoon to bring the sisters’ father from Saigon to France to visit. Described as “a pair of Cordelias” to the “tired, broken” King Lear, abandoned 20 years before in Saigon by the “runaway” daughters, the sisters and their cousin are thoroughly assimilated into French society. While they are tallying up the expenses of the potential visit, and poring over the father’s letters in Vietnamese, which they can barely read, back in a vastly changed Saigon, old King Lear is haunted by their absence—since his wealthy and terrifying mother-in-law, Lady Jackal, had spirited them away when the Communists took over. The narrative moves with a compelling, hypnotic, repetitive energy, as it becomes clear that both camps are entrenched and immovable. Lê writes in choked, purple sentences that prove to be both a challenge and an insightful reward. (June)