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February 11, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

ONCE UPON A DREAM: The Vietnamese-American Experience edited by De Tran, Andrew Lam & Hai Dai Nguyen (Andrews & McMeel: $19.95; 184 pp., illustrated, paperback original). The editors have compiled the first anthology of poetry, fiction, autobiography and artwork to focus on the experience of Vietnamese immigrants. The authors share the problems of assimilation and the preservation of traditional culture common to all immigrants, but the legacy of a bitter war complicates matters: Many people who supported the United States were abandoned to torture, poverty and death after the fall of Saigon. Nguyen Ngoc Ngan recalls how his wife and son died when an overloaded boat sank off the coast of Malaysia; Khoi T. Luu presents a devastating send-up of Vietnamese American stereotypes. Thuy Dinh summarizes the tone of many of the pieces when she comments, "To be a refugee is not to avoid your catastrophes but face them head on, unflinching, the eyes not dazed by the intense whiteness of Paradise."

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