My paper has been accepted for this AAS Annual Conference in 2022! It’ll be my first time going to the AAS Conference, and am hoping that the pandemic does not deter too many of our plans. The paper will be an opportunity for me to workshop ideas for the article that I’m working on on excess in Dương Thu Hương’s novels, Paradise of the Blind and The Zenith, two texts that I highly recommend.
Exiled writer Duong Thu Huong is one of the most renown contemporary women writers of Vietnam, namely for her blatant criticism of the Communist Party. In her works, The Zenith (2007) and Paradise of the Blind (1993), translated and published abroad, she uses the recurring themes of excess and deficiencies to comment on the political deterioration of the State, a tragedy that began just years after gaining independence from France with the land reform movement. For example, the hunger that ravages in villages is countered by the ironic gluttony of ghosts, and the performative asceticism practiced by Party members only masks the actual greed underlying their political decisions. Through close examination of all facets of human life, Duong shows how karmic energy, a major narrative force in her works, ultimately promises a restoration of equilibrium that mercilessly punishes, humiliates and educates. This paper examines how the politics of excess, playing with different human virtues and vices, reveals a deep irony in the governing systems of Vietnam and the rhetoric of independence.