Longlist, National Book Awards 2017 for Poetry

Afterland by Mai Der Vang book cover
ISBN 9781555977702
Graywolf Press
Mai Der Vang. (Photo credit: Andre Yang)
Mai Der Vang

Mai Der Vang is the author of Yellow Rain, a finalist for the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry. Her first book Afterland was Longlisted for the National Book Award, a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and selected for the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award. More about this author >

Award Years

Award Status

Award Categories

Afterland is a powerful, essential collection of poetry that recounts with devastating detail the Hmong exodus from Laos and the fate of thousands of refugees seeking asylum. Mai Der Vang is telling the story of her own family and by doing so, she also provides an essential history of the Hmong culture’s ongoing resilience in exile. Many of these poems are written in the voices of those fleeing unbearable violence after U.S. forces recruited Hmong fighters in Laos in the Secret War against communism, only to abandon them after that war went awry. That history is little known, but the three hundred thousand Hmong now living in the United States are living proof of its aftermath. With poems of extraordinary force and grace, Afterland holds an original place in American poetry and lands with a sense of humanity saved, of outrage, of a deep tradition broken by war and ocean but still intact, remembered, and lived.