Longlist, National Book Awards 2017 for Poetry

Afterland by Mai Der Vang book cover
ISBN 9781555977702
Graywolf Press
Mai Der Vang author photo, credit: Ze Moua
Mai Der Vang

Mai Der Vang is an editorial member of the Hmong American Writers’ Circle. Her poetry has appeared in The New Republic, Poetry, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, and her essays have been published in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and The San Francisco Chronicle.  More about this author >

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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.