Allyssa Lee
May 09, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Gangster We Are All Looking For

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
le thi diem thuy
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

Lovely and sparse, Gangster is like an impressionist painting — pretty strokes of prose melding to create a larger whole. A nameless narrator recalls her ’70s childhood, when she and her father journeyed by boat from war-ravaged Vietnam to San Diego. The afflictions that shape her life — the two long years before her mother joined them in the U.S., a brother’s tragic death, her father’s shadowy past — are revealed in glimpses and softened by a child’s perspective. Most likely swatches from the author’s own past, the novel’s short, graceful passages never fully engage. We’re left admiring the picture from afar.

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