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Review: Saigon Calling: London 1963-75

When your parents are not born in this country, your view of the holidays, are quite different than most. The country you are born, has their own traditions, like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, which I watched every year, up until a couple of years ago, when a family member passed away, and watching it was not quite the same. Then there the traditions, you bring over from the countries where they came from. My mom and her family loved Nochito-Nochita, which most people would recognize as Kris Kringle, but we would usually observe it during Noche Buena, where everyone got to stay up late on Christmas Eve.

My dad and his family also brought their traditions from Trinidad, mostly rooted in music and food, where we listened to Parang, drank sorrel, ponche-de-crème, ginger beer, and ate pastelles, and traditional Trinidadian Christmas fruitcake, which is much tastier then, than what I have had since. Our family ended up adopting some American traditions, but our cultural identity remains intact up to this day. It has not been lost on me, that both my parent families, came from much warmer places, to a country where the summers are not as warm, the winters can b unforgiving, but our lives could be much better. In Marcelino Truong’s vivid second volume of his family’s journey, London Calling, that very reason, is why traverse this part of their journey.

We catch up with the Truongs shortly after they arrive in London, right after the assassination of the South Vietnamese president Diem, as his Dad, was the president’s personal interpreter. The family integrates into proper British society, soaking up the local customs, the culture, tv shows like Doctor Who, and what is always the hardest thing to get used to, the weather. Meanwhile, the family struggles with being away from Vietnam, as the sweeping changes, affects the family they left behind, and his mother struggles with episodes of her bipolar disorder. By the end of the book, just as life, some of the family members met their end sooner than expected and others, when they were supposed to.

Overall, a moving, joyous, and bittersweet odyssey of a clan that lived life to the fullest and despite their trials and tribulations, remember the meaning of family. The story by Truong is raw, intimate, and take you places in your heart, and that will make you embrace life. The art by Truong is vivid, and alluring. Altogether, an excellent book that will have the reader flipping through old photo albums to remember those family who are still around and those are not.

Story: Marcelino Truong Art: Marcelino Truong
Story: 9.1 Art: 8.0 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy NOW!!!!