My friend and colleague, the master linguist Bob Headley, pointed out to me that Last of the Annamese lacks the final scene between Tuyet and Thanh. I believe that’s a valid criticism of the novel. As I explained to Bob, I chose not to include it for a variety of reasons. One, once I’d arrived at the dénouement, I didn’t want to delay the end of the text. Besides, Thanh is in such bad shape that he can’t talk. And I wanted the full irony at the end of Tuyet using the snub nose pistol that Chuck had given her. Given all that, I couldn’t think of a way to write the scene of the conversation between Thanh and Tuyet. Most important, I wanted the final focus to be on Chuck and Thu.
Bob found the ending of the novel depressing. So do I. The conquest of South Vietnam by the north and all the suffering caused by the U.S. withdrawal from and abandonment of the people who had fought by our side still saddens me. But, as in most of my writing, the book ends with a glimmer of hope. Chuck has found the little boy, Thu, a symbolic replacement for the son that Chuck lost to the war. I foresee that Chuck will adopt Thu as his own son.
Some readers have asked me if a sequel is in the cards. I could tell the story of Chuck and Thu living in the U.S. after the war. So far, that book is not on my to-do list. I’m currently pitching to editors another novel called Secretocracy, and I’m working on another so far unnamed book about a torrid affair between a man and woman in their eighties. Yet another book is taking shape in my head about two brothers so different from one another that neither approves of the other. And who knows what my muse may throw at me next