Vietnamerica is a new 280 page color hardcover graphic novel by Gia-Bao (GB) Tran, published by Villard about his parents, who are from Vietnam, and their journey to America in the 1970s. Vietnamerica is a complex narrative, fitting for a complex country (Vietnam) and America's involvement into that countries war / conflict in the 1960s and 1970s.
I was really looking forward to reading Vietnamerica when I first heard about its release because while I had a historical knowledge of Vietnam, I was hoping that this graphic novel would give me a first hand, personal perspective of what living there was like, especially during the Vietnam War. Vietnamerica did accomplish this to an extent, but ultimately I didn't connect with it as much as I had hoped I would, as it doesn't have the personal, emotional resonances of Maus or Perspepolis. I think that this is partly because GB Tran, the creator of Vietnamerica, was only coming to terms with what living in Vietnam and the Vietnam War (he was born in the U.S. a year after his parents arrived here) was like by the time he gets to the end of his graphic novel and I definitely wish there were at least a couple of chapters more.
I'm sure I'll appreciate Vietnamerica more upon another reading and I definitely believe that GB Tran is a cartoonist to watch in the future. Tran's art is lush and evocative of the best of Craig Thompson, of Blankets fame. I am somewhat concerned that my Ich Liebe Comics! entry here on Vietnamerica reads as a lukewarm review, but I really do think this is a solid autobiographical graphic novel, I just was looking for a little something more and hope that people still take a look / read of Vietnamerica.
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