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Butler, Robert (Olen)

vietnam vietnamese

(US, 1945– )

Butler served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1972 in military intelligence. He learned Vietnamese and became a translator and an expert in Vietnamese culture. His book of short stories, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (1992, Pulitzer Prize), provides a convincing voice for the Vietnamese attempting to adapt to American life after the war. Butler moves gracefully between the sexes and different age groups as they recollect their experiences in Vietnam and Louisiana. He has marvellous ability to create an atmosphere that is at once realistic and poetic. The title story and ‘Fairy Tale’ are simultaneously haunting and comic and show a writer in complete command of his craft. The image of Vietnam dominates Butler's fiction and this is clearly evident in On Distant Ground (1985), a novel of obsession and redemption.

Amy Tan, Robert Stone, Norman Mailer  GK

Byatt, A(ntonia) S(usan) [next] [back] Butler, Octavia

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