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Dumb Luck: A Novel by Vu Trong Phong (Southeast Asia: Politics, Meaning and Memory) Paperback – 30 Jun 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: The University of Michigan Press (30 Jun. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0472068040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0472068043
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 999,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Banned in Vietnam until 1986, "Dumb Luck"--by the controversial and influential Vietnamese writer Vu Trong Phung--is a bitter satire of the rage for modernization in Vietnam during the late colonial era. First published in Hanoi during 1936, it follows the absurd and unexpected rise within colonial society of a street-smart vagabond named Red-haired Xuan. As it charts Xuan's fantastic social ascent, the novel provides a panoramic view of late colonial urban social order, from the filthy sidewalks of Hanoi's old commercial quarter to the gaudy mansions of the emergent Francophile northern upper classes. The transformation of traditional Vietnamese class and gender relations triggered by the growth of colonial capitalism represents a major theme of the novel. "Dumb Luck" is the first translation of a major work by Vu Trong Phung, arguably the greatest Vietnamese writer of the twentieth century. The novel's clever plot, richly drawn characters and humorous tone and its preoccupation with sex, fashion and capitalism will appeal to a wide audience. It will appeal to students and scholars of Vietnam, comparative literature, colonial and postcolonial studies, and Southeast Asian civilization. Vu Trong Phung died in Hanoi, in 1939 at the age of twenty-seven. He is the author of at least eight novels, seven plays, and several other works of fiction in addition to "Dumb Luck." Peter Zinoman is Associate Professor of Southeast Asian History, University of California, Berkeley. Nguyen Nguyet Cam is Vietnamese Language Instructor, University of California, Berkeley.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shaka on 5 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback
great service but the book is poor adn written in an abstract way.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Best novel I have read for class 26 May 2005
By Joseph M. Gates - Published on
Format: Paperback
I was assigned this novel for a Vietnamese history class; I would not have even heard of it otherwise.

This novel is excellent. The writing style, translated from 1930's Vietnamese, is humourous, witty, and fast-paced. The luck, charisma, and quick thinking of Red-Haired Xuan is hilarious, and the plot is worthy of the best modern comedy movies (particularly British ones).

I have no clue how you would find out about this novel, but if you do, you should read it. It had me laughing out loud, and I am not a fan of historical or foreign novels. Considering that this novel is 70 years old and from a totally different language, it must be a masterpiece if to still be so good.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
excellent, hilarious book 11 Nov. 2005
By bookpacker - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i haven't read a lot of vietnamese literature but among those i've read, i would rank dumb luck and tale of kieu at the very top. dumb luck is hilarious and absurdly modern for its time and place. i could definitely see this book translated into a quirky comedic film (i think the preface says the author may have been influenced by such french films and i can see that, if that's true). the main character, red-haired xuan, is delightful but not annoying. not a word is wasted here -- every character and line of dialogue is essential to the story. the book is a quick, refreshing read. pick up this book if you want to read an excellent piece of vietnamese literature or want to spend a few hours rollicking with laughter (or more likely smirking and uttering a couple of "hah!"s every few minutes). this is a rare, obscure find. read it if you have the opportunity to do so.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Timeless 3 Jun. 2008
By M. Bolthouse - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In addition to offering great historical and cultural perspective for anyone interested in the "American War" - the Vietnam War - and previous history...this book is just funny.

It is an intelligent, witty, insightful book, and yet is somehow familiar...almost 'quaint' - with characters who are endearing, comfortable and delightful even to an American reader many decades later.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great!!!!! 3 April 2012
By Greg - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want to read something that will make you laugh out loud then this book is the one. Reading the book for a South East Asian history class Mr. Phung brings light to a little know area of the French colonial in Indochina. Very well put together. You WILL enjoy reading this!
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