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Robert Olen Butler Biography

(1945– ), The Alleys of Eden, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, They Whisper

vietnam american university obsession

American novelist and short-story writer, born in Granite City, Illinois, educated at Northwestern University and the University of Iowa. Butler spent 1971 in Vietnam as a Vietnamese linguist while working for the US army military intelligence. His first novel, The Alleys of Eden (1981), introduced his three main themes of sexual obsession, cultural displacement, and the problematic legacy of Vietnam, the latter being a touchstone for many of his subsequent books. A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (1992; Pulitzer Prize, 1993) is an inter-connected series of stories concentrating on the attempt by Southern Vietnamese expatriates to integrate themselves into American culture; exquisitely written and moving, the book adds a vital and usually ignored dimension to American Vietnam fiction. Although the relative paucity of references to North Vietnam is noticeable, it is evident that Butler was uniquely qualified to look beyond the boundaries of his own culture. In its concentration on the details of sexual obsession, They Whisper (1994) expands on the ground covered by his first novel and offers a prose style even more intimate with the fevered imaginings implicit in its choice of subject matter. Butler became a professor at McNeese State University in Louisiana.

Samuel Butler Biography - (1835–1902), A First Year in Canterbury Settlement, Erewhon, The Fair Haven, Life and Habit [next] [back] Octavia Butler Biography - (1947–2006), Patternmaster, Mind of My Mind, Wild Seed, Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago, Parable of the Sower

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