Crossroads and Lampposts
Pre-order – Available End 2026
The origins of Crossroads and Lampposts can be traced back to a project sponsored by the Hanoi Police Department in the early 1960s. The handwritten manuscript was completed in 1966 and submitted to the Police Department for review. It was returned to Trần Dần 22 years later, in 1988, but remained unpublished until 2011. Trần Dần himself passed away in 1997. Indeed, “manuscripts don’t burn.” In an era when Hồ Chí Minh’s foot soldiers and socialist industrial workers represented the ideal Vietnamese men, the novel follows the life of an upper-middle-class Hanoian named Dưỡng who deserted from the army of the disintegrating anti-communist state on the eve of the communist takeover of Hanoi in 1954. Patched from first-person accounts – diaries, interview transcripts, confessions – the narrative is as gripping as it is enigmatic.
Written in the early 1960s, Crossroads and Lampposts captures the vertigo experienced by many Vietnamese as the peace brought about by the Vietnamese victory at Điện Biên Phủ in 1954 proved to be short-lived and once again, North Vietnamese were plunged into the state of war against the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) and their American supporters. The novel not only sheds light on a little-understood yet crucial period in modern Vietnam but, above all, provides an extraordinary depiction of the universal human experience of navigating changes and searching for one’s identity amidst turbulent times.
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