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For centuries, Vietnamese have sustained the history of their nation, both actual and mythic, through their folklore. These stories, passed from generation to generation, contain not only the national saga, but also fundamental cultural values that Vietnamese hold dear. Some stories, like "A Daughter's Love," are imaginative accounts of early Vietnamese history. Others, like "The Anger of the Waters" and the title story, "Two Cakes Fit for a King," provide colorful explanations of the world and how it works. "The Story of Watermelon Island" offers readers a glimpse of the traditional agrarian values and way of life that are the foundation of Vietnamese society. Imaginative and captivating, funny and sometimes tragic, these tales have remained popular and culturally significant for Vietnamese, young and old, for hundreds of years. The intricate illustrations draw on centuries-old painting styles and on natural imagery and everyday life in Vietnam.

 

Nguyen Nguyet Cam is instructor in Vietnamese language

at the University of California, Berkeley. She has published numerous translations of works from English into Vietnamese, including two of E.B. White's classic children's novels, Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan. Dana Sachs is the author of The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam and co-translator of Le Minh Khue's collection of short fiction, The Stars, the Earth, the River. Bui Hoai Mai, a graduate of the Hanoi Fine Arts College, has exhibited his paintings and photographs in Vietnam and Europe. He lives in Hanoi and Bac Ninh, Vietnam.

 

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Dana Sachs 2007

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