Nguyen Ngoc Tu
Nguyen Ngoc Tu was born in 1976 in Ca Mau, the southernmost province of Vietnam. She is known as a prolific and popular southern writer who captures the typical lifestyle and colloquial language of southern Vietnam, particularly the Mekong Delta. Her characters are often sincere, hardworking rural people— fishermen and farmers—forced to deal with the often cruel and capricious vicissitudes of life. She is most famous for her 2006 collection of short fiction titled Endless Field (Canh dong bat tan), which has been translated into Korean, Swedish, English, and German and was adapted into a 2010 Vietnamese film called Floating Lives. The narrator in “Birds in Formation” speaks from a generational vantage point reflective of Nguyen Ngoc Tu’s own—that of someone born after the end of the war. The story highlights how the war remained present in Vietnamese domestic life for decades after 1975 and the emotional and psychological challenges of uniting a country that had seen its people, sometimes even within the same family, end up on opposing sides of the conflict.