Against the Flood: A Novel by Ma Van Khang
When Ma Van Khang's novel Against the Flood was published in Vietnam early in 1999, it caused a sensation because of its controversial description of sex and politics in Vietnam. The plot revolves around a writer and editor-in-chief of a publishing house who is attacked by a clique of conformist writers and dragged into a dispute with his boss. As a result of the dispute, his just-published book is banned. He is led to believe that his lover, a proofreader in the publishing house, joined in the decision against him. She herself is slandered and soon sacked from her job. She leaves Hanoi, becomes involved in opium trafficking, and is arrested. The six excerpts presented below are intended to give a flavor of Ma Van Khang fictional treatment of some of the dramatic tensions evident in Vietnamese society today: the age-old themes of friendship, love, and betrayal. Translator Wayne Karlin's Afterword is used here as an introduction to the excerpts.