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The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 BlogviewLinh Dinh Archive

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The first white I met in Laos was a man of about 50. He was hunched over on a couch in the shabby lobby of a mini hotel, by the Savannakhet bus station. Not a big tourist attraction, the city does have an elegant Catholic church and dinosaur bones in a museum. When I addressed... Read More
Vientiane, 2020
I’m in Vientiane, a sleeping beauty just starting to wake up. I’m typing this at Spirit House, because it’s quiet. Three tables away sit two middle-aged monks. Checking their smartphones, they’re just chilling. Puffing a cigarette, one flashes his purple nipple episodically. In his cage, a crested bird whistles, while others, flying freely, chirp. The... Read More
From 10AM to 11PM, Hoi An’s old town is choked with tourists, so just get there just after sunrise if you want to admire its architecture, and it is magnificent. How did this slice of old Vietnam survive? During the Vietnam War, Hoi An was the administrative center for the entire province, so it was... Read More
nha-trang-2019-2
It’s always good to get up at dawn to walk around, for you’ll see a less guarded, composed and worn out version of humanity. They’ll still have the rest of the day to blunder, lapse, commit a crime or jump off a bridge. Passing a Nha Trang park, I spot middle aged broads dancing the... Read More
Nha Trang, 2019
Last month, I frowned on those who are drawn to the vagabond, rootless lifestyle, who think it is ideal to move from hotel room to hotel room. Guess what? I’ve joined them. Life is goofy that way. After my mother-in-law threatened to stab me more than ten times, I left Saigon and stayed in Vung... Read More
Vung Tau, 2019
I’m renting a hotel room in Vung Tau for $130 a month. For just $22 more, I could have had an air conditioner, but I don’t need it. Even the electric fan is often turned off. I have a TV, which I don’t watch. I’ve always preferred silence. I’m two minutes away from Mulberry Beach,... Read More
Allentown, 2012
My writing on society and politics has made me quite a few friends, some I’ve been able to visit on their home turf, from Scranton to Burgazada, to Leipzig. Others have come to me. In July of 2018, just before I left the US for good, I had a few beers with Bill, who drove... Read More
the-lighthouse-2017
In 2017, Chuck Orloski’s 27-year marriage collapsed. Chased from his home and broke, he had to take refuge at Lighthouse, a Scranton group home run by a blind, 54-year-old nun, Lindy Morelli. That Thanksgiving, I took a four-hour bus ride from Philly to stay five days with my friend, Chuck, at the Lighthouse. The rolling... Read More
hong-kong-2019
I just spent a week in Macau and Hong Kong, the West’s last two possessions in Asia. There, I heard an Indian joke from Filipino writer Charlson Ong, “You Brits think you can just come and take our chicken biryani and chicken tandoori? No, we’re coming with you!” A great irony of colonialism is that... Read More
craig-nelsen
Please introduce yourself to the readers. My major in college was Western philosophy and, after graduation, at the suggestion of one of my professors, I took a position teaching English at a university in Shanxi province, China for the opportunity to immerse myself in a society informed by Eastern philosophy. I went for six months... Read More
Vung Tau, 2019
In Saigon, I can easily go a week without seeing any white person, but today, I ran across two white Mormons on bicycles, with one having this paper sign on his backpack, “TIẾNG ANH MIỄN PHÍ” [“FREE ENGLISH LANGUAGE”]. I also passed a young white man pulling a suitcase down the street, his face showing... Read More
Writing about Kafka in a Saigon McDonald\
A Saigon McDonald’s is hardly the ideal place to muse about Kafka, but that’s where I am, because I crave ketchup this morning, and I have just enough free time to pose as a writer. Running ragged, I spent this past week hosting two Korean salesmen. They’re in Vietnam for Metalex, a trade convention of... Read More
shutterstock_1066808576
In 2018, the publication of Albert Einstein’s travel diaries was greeted by newspaper headlines lamenting his politically incorrect views of Asians, particularly the Chinese. Most egregious was Einstein’s verdict on Chinese women, “I noticed how little difference there is between men and women; I don’t understand what kind of fatal attraction Chinese women possess that... Read More
oakland-2013
As writer or thinker, Jack London can’t touch George Orwell, but he’s nearly the Brit’s equal when it comes to describing society’s bottom. To both, being a writer is as much a physical as an intellectual endeavor. Wading into everything, they braved all discomforts and dangers. This attitude has become very rare, and not just... Read More
vietnamnet-dang-van-hoa-with-friends-in-angola
First, the good news. Yesterday, I spotted a new Wife Cafe, not three miles from me. Who says Vietnamese hicks aren’t innovative? With this marvelous idea, lonely bachelors the world over can stop ogling and whacking compulsively, and with their next morning joe, choose a black, white, cream or cappuccino life mate. Eternal happiness, understanding,... Read More
ea-kly-2019x-2
There is a dearth of writing about work, its variety, tedium and grind. This is understandable, since most writers have devoted much of their time to writing and reading, and not painting houses, cleaning toilets, washing dishes, planting crops or performing mind numbingly monotonous tasks on an assembly line, etc. This blind spot or ignorance... Read More
fatherandsonwithwives
How long have you lived overseas? First I solo’d my yacht across the Pacific, then settled in the Philippines. It is close to 20 years ago now.   What made you decide to leave North America? Canada: It is cold, with lots of rain, and the sun never gets high in the sky. US: After... Read More
San Jose, 2013
Last month in Saigon, I hung out with my friend of 40-years, Giang. We were freshmen together at Andrew Hill High School in San Jose, then I had to move to Virginia to escape my psychotic stepmother. A screaming machine, she’s still daily enraged, I’m sure. A horrible marriage will do that. In the late... Read More
Philadelphia, 2012
With its eschatological Bible, the West is constantly haunted by its death and hypothetical rebirth. Its apocalyptic imagination is unmatched. Christianity promises a frightful ending, as in, “Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of... Read More
aeon-mall-in-saigon-2019
My last three years in high school, I was in Northern Virginia. I hung out at Springfield Mall and Wakefield Recreation Center. Though I had lame handles and an erratic shot, I still managed to get into pickup games, and each time I hoisted up a brick, my buddy, Kelvin Nash, would holler, “Riceman!” I... Read More
Philadelphia, 2011
Voting or protesting, Americans don’t just achieve nothing, they lend legitimacy to their criminal government, for it can declare to the rest of the world, “See, we are a democracy! Our citizens do vote, and they can even protest!” It’s an obvious point I’ve made repeatedly, though clearly into the void, but in my last... Read More
Democratic National Convention, 2012
To represent anything is to reduce and deform it, obviously, for even Leonardo’s Mona Lisa is but a stick figure compared to the witty, voluptuous and redolent broad, whose repartees, smiles, jokes and burps, from moment to moment, can only increase her charm and terror, and that’s why man never allowed himself to be engulfed... Read More
ea-kly-2019-07-18
Most of the towns in Đắk Lắk I have never heard of until I’m in them. A few days ago, I was in Yang Reh, which has just 4,100 people, and founded only in 2002. Coming in, I spotted a tiny, dark woman of unclear ethnicity, pushing a junk bicycle that had assorted bags dangling... Read More
Ea Kly, 2019
After ten weeks away, I’m back in dusty, remote Ea Kly and the plastic recycling plant. Coming up from Saigon in our new truck, we avoided Highway 13, since my brother and sister-in-law are very superstitious. Last year, they got charms from a shaman to stick on our plant, yet our business still floundered. In... Read More
My Grandma\
In December of 2011, I was on an Amtrak rolling through North Carolina. Sitting in the lounge car, I gazed mostly at trees and fields, with their isolated houses or trailers. Every so often, a town would flit by, Smithfield, Kenly, Elm City... Though all these names meant nothing to me, each settlement appeared sweet... Read More
Popeyes in Saigon, 2019
Done with my article on walking, I rewarded myself by heading to the local Popeyes. Yes, there’s one in District 6, within walking distance of my mosquito netting. Though any Saigon lunch beyond two bucks will cause me infinite, enduring pain, florid self-recrimination and post-traumatic stress disorder, I manned up and handed the young, angelic... Read More
Saigon, 2019
In Saigon, I live with my in laws in Phú Lâm, the same neighborhood I was in at 8 and 9-years-old, when my mother had a pharmacy here. It was named Linh. Then my parents got divorced. Sometimes in life, you end up exactly where you started. Twice a day, I’d take my nephew for... Read More
Leipzig, 2015
Our first year in Ea Kly was a failure. We lost quite a bit of money. For the past month, I’ve been in Saigon so we could formulate a new game plan. Even in a low-wage economy like Vietnam, plastic recycling is barely feasible. Seeing people falling is funny. In his magisterial Crowds and Power,... Read More
Saigon, 2019
I’ve spent 13 of the last 17 months outside the USA, and have no plan or wish to return. I wouldn’t mind an honest cheeseburger now and then, however, but each version I’ve had here has been awful, with the worst something that came in a plastic bag, with the “burger” a brownish orange paste... Read More
kuala-lumpur-2019
Convinced I was destined to become an oil painter, I attended art school, and during my art fag days, I honed in on art museums, wherever I went. As a writer, however, I quickly realized I needed to scrutinize the streets, for even without people, a community reveals much about itself through its houses, shops,... Read More
Border crossing at Juarez, 2012
Last month, I received an email from a young Mexican, “I am a DREAMER (I find the term infantilizing) someone who was brought to the U.S as a child illegally and raised here. I received a work permit through DACA, I can only work legally, I can't step out of the country and step back... Read More
Ea Kly, 2019
Smaller than California and settled for millennia, how can Vietnam even have a frontier?! But that’s what the Central Highlands were until very recently. Some of the heaviest fighting during the Vietnam War prevented Vietnamese from moving there en masse, but now they’re swarming all over. With nearly a hundred million people on so little... Read More
Hong Kong, 2017
I just got off Skype with Kevin Barrett. Interviewed, I sat in the dusty office of our dustier plastic recycling plant. Truck horns and roosters crowing provided background noises. Though we covered many topics, I want to expand on just one, that of America as a religion. Unless you’re a reactionary, assbackward asshole, you believe... Read More
gary-lukatch
In college, I admired the photos of Robert Capa and learnt that he had died in Thai Binh, not far from my father’s home village. Of Capa’s 31 photos of Vietnam, I particularly like two of children crossing a Hanoi Street, with French soldiers in the background. The small details of daily life reveal a... Read More
Ea Kly, 2019
Eileen Neff was my professor at the Philadelphia College of Art, and we became friends and even did coke together, though just once. In January, Eileen emailed to ask if I would consider writing a piece about Walt Whitman for the American Poetry Review, where she is a board member. Its late editor, Stephen Berg,... Read More
Can Tho, 2019
I hadn’t been to Chau Doc in nearly two decades, so was definitely looking forward to this trip. Though my wife doesn’t travel well, she came along because she wanted to visit Mistress’ Temple. All over Vietnam, there are Mistress’ Temples, with most dedicated to Guanyin, but the Chau Doc one was built for a... Read More
michael-kreutzer
In the latest entry of my Escape from America series, I interview an American who’s living in Russia, a country that’s been relentlessly demonized by the Western media. To a minority of Americans, however, Russia is a nationalist beacon, or even a possible refuge, as it already is to many Afrikaners. How long have you... Read More
Presidential candidate Linh Dinh holding a baby
Fred Reed ran but got no votes, so it’s my turn. I’m officially announcing my candidacy for the President of the United States of America. Foreign born, I’m technically ineligible, but the deep state can make anything happen, and I have Jewish power behind me, for I’m not just its secret agent, but a real... Read More
Shaman in Vinh Chau, 2019
After three weeks in Saigon for Tet, I’m back in Ea Kly. It’s 5:33AM as I begin this, and I’ll type until 6:45, to begin my work day at the plastic recycling plant. As usual, I sit at Mrs. Ha’s cafe. I’m her first customer. Unlike Saigon, it’s chilly here. Appearing suddenly from the shadow... Read More
Leipzig, 2015
After Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar made an obvious point about Jewish power influencing American foreign policies, she was forced, by that same Jewish power, to recant, thus confirming, to all those who can still think, the awful influence of Jewish power. Though Jewish power is quite out in the open, as in AIPAC and the... Read More
Saigon, 2019
It’s Tet here. Public employees get nine days off, counting an unpaid weekend. Millions abandon cities for their home villages, leaving most of Hanoi and Saigon suddenly unclogged, so crossing the street is no longer a harrowing adventure. Prices are jacked up, including for long distance buses, hotel rooms, meals and even haircuts. The week... Read More
ea-kly-2019-3
During my two months in Ea Kly, I have not seen anyone read a book or even a newspaper. TV watching is not compulsive, and canned music is not a pervasive, nearly nonstop pollution, as it is in much of the world. No one here is rigged to a mind scrambling headphone. Though FaceBook has... Read More
ea-kly-2019-2
I live in a square, spartan room with a bed, no chairs, and a bathroom without door, since the builder/plumber hired by brother in law was so half assed. My front wall is only half painted because the man couldn’t move his arm any more or further, I suppose. In person, the useless fellow is... Read More
saigon-2018-4
Visiting Vietnam in 1953, Norman Lewis quoted a despairing French soldier, Captain Doustin, “It is the feeling I get at this moment that we are at grips with something ant-like rather than human. These unemotional people driven on by some blind instinct. I feel that my intelligence and my endurance are not enough. Take, for... Read More
ea-kly-2-2019
I painted houses for a decade, and on our crews, we always knew of each other’s relative competence, willingness to work, sense of responsibility, substance addictions, if any, and, ultimately, character. My roommate, Jay, for example, really didn’t give a fuck, for he was often late, but somehow always rehired, for our boss, Joe LeBlanc,... Read More
Ea Kly, 2019
During a late night layover in Minneapolis a decade ago, I found myself in a McDonald’s. Manning the cash register was a chubby black woman, and the ordering customer was a black flight attendant who was young, thin and pretty, how all American air stewardesses used to look, before the ageism lawsuits. In Asia, they’re... Read More
da-lat-2018
Since my time is tight and often interrupted, I will file these hit-and-run, guerrilla pieces. I’m the only one in this roadside, wall-less and dirt-floored cafe. Walking here, I paused to pet my neighbor’s cow, who’s taken an extreme liking to me. Lovingly, she licked my hand and arm with her sandpaper tongue and even... Read More
Ea Kly, 2018
In Bangkok for Miss Universe 2018, Miss Cambodia and Miss Vietnam made international news when they were idiotically mocked by Miss USA for not knowing English. The Vietnamese beauty, H’Hen Nie, is a Rade from Dak Lak, a province well-known to many American Vietnam War vets, but otherwise not often seen by foreigners. Its waterfalls... Read More
Philadelphia, 2017
Beating Malaysia, Vietnam has just been crowned the soccer champion of Southeast Asia. With its short men boasting negligible muscles, this corner of the world is not known for its athletic prowess, so the world took no notice of this prize, understandably. Champion Vietnam is only ranked 100 by FIFA, but it took considerable effort... Read More
Last month, I was interviewed by Jamejam Daily, an Iranian newspaper. Below is the English version: There are calls inside and outside the country that Iranian officials would do well to get real about the US demands and drink the coup of poison sooner rather than later. They say the US “maximum pressure campaign” has... Read More
Linh Dinh
About Linh Dinh

Born in Vietnam in 1963, Linh Dinh came to the US in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). He has been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, among other places. He is also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. His writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and he has been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Reykjavik, Toronto and all over the US, and has also published widely in Vietnamese.