cover image Saigon Calling: London 1963-75

Saigon Calling: London 1963-75

Marcelino Truong, trans. from the French by David Homel. Arsenal Pulp, $26.95 (280p) ISBN 978-1-55152-689-8

This vividly drawn graphic memoir examines how Westerners feverishly debating the Vietnam War neglected the perspective of the Vietnamese people. Truong’s previous memoir, Such a Lovely Little War, recalls his childhood in Saigon, where his father worked as a diplomat navigating the early phases of the conflict. This sequel finds the Truongs in England, trying to escape the violence and build a stable life, although little Marco complains, “I liked it when there were plenty of soldiers and tanks and planes!” Marco’s father defends the American presence in South Vietnam, but as the body count rises, he becomes disillusioned. Meanwhile, Marco’s mentally frail French mother grows increasingly erratic. As anti-Vietnam protests become a central part of Swinging London culture, the kids start to ask questions no adult can answer. The story cuts between the family’s life in the London suburbs, peppered with school adventures and holidays, and the brutal quagmire on the other side of the world. Truong’s lightly colored watercolor illustrations, filled with homey details of 1960s London, contrast with sober, sepia-toned depictions of Vietnam. More assured than his impressive previous memoir, this intimate family story is woven into the record of a war that engulfed the world, a history startlingly relevant to the present day. [em](Sept.) [/em]