Faraway the Southern Sky

Faraway the Southern Sky
"Joseph Andras writes with the swiftness of lightning."
-Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer

A biographical historical fiction retelling of Ho Chi Minh's immigration and radical life in underground Paris in the 1920s

Fleeing persecution in Indochina, the young Ho Chi Minh arrived in Paris as World War I was sputtering to a close. A painfully shy twentysomething who stammered when he spoke in public, he joined the shadowy figures of the demimonde, the radicals, poor artists, prostitutes, the luckless, and rebellious.

Six years later, he boarded a train bound for the young Soviet Union as the fiery, passionate leader of the Vietnamese independence movement and a founder of the French Communist Party. He had lived under various pseudonyms in a succession of seedy apartments. There had been arrests and beatings, jobs in restaurants and photo shops, revolutionary writing in the Bibliotheque Nationale, and meetings with Chaplin and Colette, all while being dogged by French spies--much of what we know about the young man's Paris years is thanks to that surveillance, down to accounts of arguments he had with friends at home.

Searching for traces of the past in the streets of today, Joseph Andras hears echoes of other angry histories, from terror attacks to tent encampments to the protests of the Gilets jaunes. This intensely lyrical, genre-bending book is a meditation on what could be called the grandeur of the poor, the free, the outcast, and the rebellious--people who might not find a place in history books but without whom history could not be written.

Publication Date: 
May 21, 2024