The Mountains Sing

“A sweeping tale of one family's shifting fortunes in Vietnam across half a century . . . Invitingly and gracefully told . . . A richly imagined story of severed bonds amid conflict.” Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

“[A] lyrical, sweeping debut novel . . .Nguyễn brilliantly explores the boundary between what a writer shares with the world and what remains between family. This brilliant, unsparing love letter to Vietnam will move readers.”Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"An engrossing story of family, adversity, war, loss, and triumph . . . Recalling Min Jin Lee and Lisa See, Nguyen displays a lush and captivating storyteller’s gift as she effortlessly transports readers to another world, leaving them wishing for more." Library Journal Starred Review

"[A] panoramic epic … this book brings to life a crucial part of Vietnamese history from within. Your heart will not leave this book untouched.” - Literary Hub

"Widely published in Vietnamese, poet, nonfiction writer, and translator Quế Mai's first novel in English balances the unrelenting devastation of war with redemptive moments of surprising humanity." Booklist

"A quintessential Vietnamese novel... beautiful, heartbreaking and utterly essential... For any visitor to Vietnam, the novel also serves as an ideal book to pick up before arrival, as it enables readers to intimately understand and appreciate the country’s history and culture." — Saigoneer Bookshelf


"An epic account of Việt Nam's painful 20th century history, both vast in scope and intimate in its telling. Through the travails of one family, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai brings us close to the horrors of famine, war, and class struggle. But in this moving and riveting novel, she also shows us a postwar Việt Nam, a country of hope and renewal, home to a people who have never given up." —VIET THANH NGUYEN, author of The Sympathizer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

"A sweeping story that positions Vietnamese life within the rich and luminous history of national epics like The Tale of Kiều and the Iliad. Expansive in scope and feeling, The Mountains Sing is a feat of hope, an unflinchingly felt inquiry into the past, with the courageous storytelling of the present." —OCEAN VUONG, 2019 MacArthur Fellow and author of the bestselling novel On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous 


THE MOUNTAINS SING is available for pre-order now (release date 17 March 2020 by ALGONQUIN BOOKS):




“Good literature frees us from being trapped in our own skins by allowing us to identify with characters and see the world through their eyes. Reading this novel, I was moved by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s beautiful, even poetic, depictions of enduring courage. I came away with a deeper understanding of the war in which I fought.”—KARL MARLANTES, bestselling author of Matterhorn, What It’s Like to Go to War, and Deep River, winner of the Washington State Book Award

“This book is an act of love, compassion, and ultimately healing, and very much needed by all who survived the war.”—THI BUI, author of The Best We Could Do, winner of The American Book Award

“It is a story of loss and sorrow, of longing for peace and normalcy, and—above all—of the triumph of hope over despair, told in the authentic voices of a resilient and resourceful grandmother and her granddaughter. “—MAI ELLIOTT, Pulitzer-Prize Finalist & author of The Sacred Willow: Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family 


"A wonderful, intricate story of the lives of a Vietnamese family trying to make it through generations of war. The Mountains Sing is a beautiful story of the simple challenge of keeping a family together and the courage of perseverance. It is told with the sureness of a master storyteller with a poet's spirit. A large and complicated story, marvelous to read."—LARRY HEINEMANN, author of Paco's Story, winner of the National Book Award

“An essential read for anyone who wants to discover Việt Nam, and for Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans searching to understand their grandparents and parents.” —THANHHÀ LẠI, bestselling & National Book Award-winning author of Inside Out & Back Again and Butterfly Yellow

"Over the last two decades we have been gifted with works by Vietnamese writers who have brought us into the consciousness of those that Americans saw only as backdrops for their own stories. Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai not only adds to that rich body of work, she daringly transcends it. —WAYNE KARLIN, author of Wandering Souls, winner of the Vietnam Veterans of America Excellence in the Arts Award

"In The Mountains Sing, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai has found a true and clear voice in English that is rich and compelling the way only those who come to English as a second language can sometimes manage."—BRUCE WEIGL, Pulitzer Prize Finalist and author of the best-selling memoir The Circle of Hanh

"The structure is clever, the writing often evocative, the characters convincing and very touching and the whole narrative deeply engaging. And this is a first novel! Impressive."—SARA MAITLAND, author of Daughter of Jerusalem, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award

"Deep human bonds of family, place, and memory are written of in ways that are often heartbreaking, but show the strength and persistence of those ties. This is a book that glows with spirit and those larger life forces that include love. I look forward to the day I can put this book in readers' hands.” —RICK SIMONSON, Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle