BookBar Book Review: The Reenactments by Hai-Dang Phan

BookBar Thu, 03/14/2019 - 4:09pm

By Blaine Heydt


Hai-Dang Phan’s Reenactments exists in the in-between. Sorry Stranger Things fans, nothing otherworldly about it, this work is in this world and of this world. Reenactments’ “in-between” lies in the idea that life exists between our current and previous experiences. Phan’s collection brings together past and present, first-hand experiences and photographs/videos, and current happenings and memories. All of these dichotomies combine to posit that life is continually replayed, both individually and on a larger historic scale. Phan brilliantly threads translations of works by Vietnamese poets throughout the book. These translations become another form of retelling or re-envisioning as he connects his present to his family’s exodus from Vietnam to the United States. Yet this collection goes far beyond the individual experience of the Vietnam War, as it examines the larger impact of war on history and culture – ultimately culminating in a sense of connection through lived, imagined and remembered experiences.


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