Phạm Ngọc Lân
A Vietnamese Eurasian Life
Independence and Communism
Pham Ngoc Lân was born in 1944 in Saigon. After graduating
from Saigon University's Faculty of Pharmacy, he served as a
pharmacist in the South Vietnamese Army from 1969 to 1973.
Then he became assistant professor at the same faculty from
1973 to 1980, interrupted by a detention in Communist
reeducation camps. In 1980, he left Vietnam with his wife
and their two children and resettled in France. He is now
retired and lives in a suburb of Toulouse, a southern city
Unknown Father is the English version
of the book De Père Inconnu by the same author, and
published by L'Harmattan in 2015, with a second edition in
2016. Like the Vietnamese version Cha Vô Danh, also
published by L'Harmattan in 2019, this English version is
not a literal translation of the French version, but a
rewriting by the author himself for an Englishspeaking
audience. ''I was spellbound both by the content and by the
writing style. This book looks deeply into the lives of
Vietnamese as well as into the soul of Vietnam as a country.
A unique mix of biography, culture, history, and politics,
it is important reading for a variety of American and of
other Englishspeaking audiences. It would be very
interesting for younger ethnic Vietnamese descended from the
diaspora, especially as the Fall of Saigon nears its 50th
John R. Bondanella
Publisher : Editions L'Harmattan (April 8, 2022)
Language : English
Paperback : 544 pages
ISBN-10 : 2140255992
ISBN-13 : 978-2140255991
Item Weight : 1.85 pounds
Dimensions : 6.1 x 1.23 x 9.45 inches hát.
Books are now available at bookstores and
can also be ordered at :
- M.Thai: A must have book
for English readers, especially for younger generations.
Full of historical facts about life in Vietnam during the
50s to 80s.
It brings back my memories as a college student and a
soldier during the last days of 1975.
A great book.
- Trần Việt Hưng: He is doing the
work of a historian, not the way historians normally do.
What would the feelings of a 17-year-old boy be like when
the bus he was traveling on got stopped by armed guerrillas,
softly speaking as much as they could but with deadly
weapons in their hands that could be fired off at any time?
I know how he felt.
I know what happened to him as I have read his story.
Over and over.
And yet, when author Phạm Ngọc Lân sent me a copy of his
newly published book Unknown Father, the English version of
De Père Inconnu (French version, published in 2015) and Cha
Vô Danh (Vietnamese version, published in 2019), I found
myself completely in awe after I read through it.
Because he did not simply translate his two previous books
into this version, he retold the story, the story of the
boy, the boy that he was. In an absolutely different writing
style, I would say.
It is the story of a Eurasian man desperately in search of
his unknown father for almost his entire life, a search
nested in a context having so many volatilities, an actual
background of our country Vietnam in the second half of the
Telling that story is not such an easy job to do, given the
circumstances, and the author is doing the work of a
historian, whether or not he acknowledges it, not the way
historians normally do.
Enriched by his knowledge and expertise, he took the
witness-bearing role and gave an account of the history and
its true events.
He gave it a breath of spirit.
Cecilia Dart-Thornton once said, and I quote:
'If you're looking for a book that’s not been influenced by
21st-century popular culture and that’s guaranteed to be a
good read because it’s stood the test of time, you can't go
wrong with the classics.'
Unknown Father, though first published in 2022, is one of
those and by all means, is not only a good read, but also a
lived experience, of the author's, of mine, and no doubt, of
- HVH : Main themes of the
20th century through a life of a citizen of the world
It' s quite a complex story, spanning more than a century
and dealing with the main themes of the 20th century,
migration, colonialism, cold war and Vietnam war, communism,
refugees, and collapse of the Communist world : migration of
a French widow to the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) in 1902, of
a Vietnamese refugee family to France in 1980; Second World
War in France which brought a young French man to a small
island in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam where he will meet a
Vietnamese woman from more than a thousand kilometers north
; the first part (1946-1954) of the Vietnam war which
brought almost a million Vietnamese to migrate to the south;
the second "Vietnam War" (1956-1975) under the perspective
of a Vietnamese who lived through it in his homeland through
turbulent but exciting times (Vietnam as "a country, not a
war"), where we can find youth, love, romance and academic
success along with war atrocities and despair; the boat
people, their resettlement; discussion of identities, of
ethnicities by a person who is the product of several
worlds. Then happy ending in the new century where a very
long, detailed detective story full of suspense comes to a
surprisingly simple but inspiriting conclusion.
I can't help quoting T.S. Eliot:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Great reading for Vietnamese from the diaspora who need a
guided, detailed and learned tour of their time lost ("temps
perdu") in a Vietnam now lost to tourism and "renovation";
for the second generation of Vietnamese to learn about their
"roots"; for anybody interested in Vietnam; and for all
those who, at the sight of the current Ukraine tragedy, are
reflecting on war and the human condition and who are trying
to keep alive a certain sense of optimism about the future
- gph108 : a living proof of
resilience and excellence
The author, a french-vietnamese orphan whose father- a
French reservist officer, an HEC graduate who was cowardly
executed by the Japanese in Lang Son a few months before
their defeat in WWII in 1945. Author was a pharmacist, a
guitarist, an IT expert, a historian, a journalist, a
writer, a singer, a college educator, a former pharmacist
captain of the ARVN, a prisoner in so called re-education
camp following the 1975 fall of south Viet Nam. The book was
a masterpiece of Viet Nam history, a living and honest
witness of the Viet Nam war, a well researched and accurate
compilation of references of facts and customs. At the end,
his life long wish of tracing his roots and hard work, and
in search of his military heroic MIA father were finally
rewarded with surprisingly positive findings. Proof of his
identity was accidentally found. He was no longer a
naturalized French citizen, but a bonafide repatriated
French son as adjudicated by a French judge. Many thanks to
PNLân, I learned so much after reading both the french and
the vietnamese versions of your life. Your books are
- P Q. Jenkins : If you haven’t
got the book. You may want to get one. This is a man who’s
determined and succeeded in everything he did in his life .
How do I know ? He is my brother in law who raised 2
independent and successful children. He is an example of you
can be or do anything in life if you put your mind into it.
This is an inspirational story that helps people who’s
struggling in life. Don’t give up.
trang phạm ngọc lân