Burrowing deep inside the tension-filled relationship between contemporary Vietnam’s hyper-capitalist society and its communist government, Ta Duy Anh’s The Termite Queen tells the Kafkaesque story of a young man who must expose the corruption of a vast network of murky figures profiting from their connections to power. Banned in Vietnam, this allegorical story is told by Viet, a native-born Vietnamese who takes over his deceased father’s powerful land development corporation. The funeral hasn’t even concluded before Viet suspects foul play, as one clue after another leads him to question everything he thought he knew about his father, their family business, and its incredible ability to get approval for projects with dubious societal and environmental returns. With the Termite Queen, Ta Duy Anh cements his reputation as one of contemporary Vietnam’s greatest fabulists, having filled this tale with criticisms that can only come from a deep and abiding love for his country.
About the Author
Ta Duy Anh (1959- ) is unarguably a famous contemporary realist author in Vietnam. He graduated with the highest distinction from the Nguyen Du School of Creative Writing. Ta is a Vietnam Writers’ Association member and served as editor for the Vietnam Writers’ Association Publishing House until he retired in 2020. Ta, a prolific writer, has published across numerous literary genres and won numerous awards for his works in Vietnam. His novel Lão kh? (The Miserable Mr. Kh?) has been translated into French and published in France under the title Sur le dos du baffle (La Frémillerie, 2017), while some of his short stories have been translated into English, French, and German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai. Despite his well-established career as a writer and an editor, some of his works were and have been censored due to political reasons in communist Vietnam. His novel Ði tìm nhân v?t (Looking for a Character) was banned in 2002 as the government condemned it for ‘portraying a dark, negative picture of society.’ Only fifteen years later was the book reassessed and approved for dissemination. Many of his short stories have also been censored. His novel Sinh ra d? ch?t (Born to Die) is permanently banned in Vietnam but was released in the US in 2018. His newest novel, Ð?t m? côi (The Orphaned Land, 2020), is being translated into English and will be published in Europe.
Quan Manh Ha is a professor of American Literature & Ethnic Studies at the University of Montana. His research interests include multiethnic US literature, Vietnam War literature, critical race theory, and literary translation. He is the translator of Other Moons: Vietnamese Stories of the American War and Its Aftermath (Columbia University Press, 2020), Luminous Nights: Pioneering Vietnamese Short Stories (La Frémillerie, France, 2021), and Hanoi at Midnight: Stories by Bao Ninh (Texas Tech University Press, 2022). He believes that literary translation is a political and ethical act. Thus besides publishing several scholarly articles and essays in journals, he is committed to translating Vietnamese literature to promote cross-cultural understanding and global discourse on colonialism, imperialism, and the Vietnam War from all sides of the conflict. His short-story translations have appeared in various journals, including Metamorphoses, Southern Humanities Review, Asian Literature and Translation, CIRQUE: A Literary Journal for Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, and DELOS.
Charles Waugh is the co-editor and co-translator of two collections of short fiction by Vietnamese writers: Wild Mustard: New Voices from Vietnam (Curbstone 2017) and Family of Fallen Leaves: Stories of Agent Orange from Vietnamese Writers (Georgia 2010). He is the fiction associate editor at ISLE, the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment journal, and professor of English at Utah State University, USA.