Through its reading of Lan Cao’s Monkey Bridge, credited as the first Vietnamese American novel, this article seeks to investigate the discourse of reconciliation or refugee settlement in the context of the changing US master narratives from Empire to Cold War 2.0. It argues that Cao’s novel in its effort to register a South Vietnamese perspective reorients modern Vietnamese experiences in relation to the US sense of democracy and freedom and in the process challenges what Donald Pease calls the state fantasy of American exceptionalism in the US military intervention in Vietnam. What Cao’s novel achieves is to blur the boundary between nationalism and communism in its representation of the Vietnamese struggle for independence in its early stage and to humanize and rehabilitate the Vietcong soldier as a possibly assimilable “us” rather than as simply “them” in the realm of the other.
- Cold War
- Monkey Bridge
- Reconciliation narrative
- Vietnam War
- Vietnamese American literature