Wandering Souls: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Description


"A deeply humane and genre-defying work of love and uncompromising hope."—Ocean Vuong

A boldly imagined debut novel about three Vietnamese siblings who seek refuge in the UK, expanding into a luminous meditation on ancestry and love


There are the goodbyes and then the fishing out of the bodies—everything in between is speculation.

After the last American troops leave Vietnam, siblings Anh, Thanh, and Minh begin a perilous journey to Hong Kong with the promise that their parents and younger siblings will soon follow. But when tragedy strikes, the three children are left orphaned, and sixteen-year-old Anh becomes the caretaker for her two younger brothers overnight.

In the years that follow, Anh and her brothers resettle in the UK and confront their new identities as refugees, first in overcrowded camps and resettlement centers and then, later, in a modernizing London plagued by social inequality and raging anti-immigrant sentiment. Anh works in a clothing factory to pay their bills. Minh loiters about with fellow unemployed high school dropouts. Thanh, the youngest, plays soccer with his British friends after class. As they mature, each sibling reckons with survivor’s guilt, unmoored by their parents’ absence. With every choice they make, their paths diverge further, until it’s unclear if love alone can keep them together.

Told through lyrical narrative threads, historical research, voices from lost family, and notes by an unnamed narrator determined to chart their fate, Wandering Souls captures the lives of a family marked by war and loss yet relentless in the pursuit of a better future. With urgency and precision, it affirms that the most important stories are those we claim for ourselves, establishing Cecile Pin as a masterful new literary voice.

About the Author


Cecile Pin grew up in Paris and New York City. She moved to London at eighteen to study philosophy at University College London and received an MA at King’s College London. She writes for Bad Form Review, was long-listed for their Young Writers’ Prize, and is a 2021 London Writers Award winner. Wandering Souls is her first novel.

Praise For…


"A debut in name only, Wandering Souls is an astute and sure-footed excavation of family, selfhood, and loss in the shadow of colonial violence. It is also a deeply humane and genre-defying work of love and uncompromising hope through a long-overdue portrayal of Vietnamese life in the UK. A mighty achievement."
—Ocean Vuong, New York Times bestselling author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous and Time is a Mother

"Wandering Souls achieves a rare feat, taking a familiar story and making it something entirely new. With language at once both concise and gorgeous, Pin opens a window into questions of duty, identity, and love. Here migration is less a desire for survival than a journey into the thundering heart of family itself, where connection and understanding are hard-won and ultimately redemptive."
—Kawai Strong Washburn, author of Sharks in the Time of Saviours

"Wandering Souls profoundly grapples with how people survive and remake themselves and their communities after tragedy. The novel asks: What does remembrance require? What are the costs of forgetting? And is there such a thing as moving on? Cecile Pin presents no easy answers. Instead, she has created a form to contain all of the contradiction, heartbreak, hope, and tender humanity."
—Nadia Owusu, author of Aftershocks

"A haunting exploration of love and leaving told with a quiet longing that grabs you and doesn't let go. Wandering Souls asks what it takes not only to survive unimaginable loss, but to live through it and thrive. Exceptional."
—Jenny Tinghui Zhang, author of Four Treasures of the Sky

Wandering Souls is deeply moving and deeply generous. Pin writes about the Vietnamese diaspora in the UK—its past and its present—with love and care. I cried reading it.”
—Yara Rodrigues Fowler, author of there are more things

“An affecting and beautiful novel that I will never forget. Cecile Pin has crafted tender and heart-breaking story of a family’s journey from Vietnam to the UK, demonstrating the power of human resilience and hope despite losing everything. A must read.”
—Sara Jafari, author of The Mismatch

“Meticulously researched and beautifully imagined, Wandering Souls is a deeply affecting debut, a restless inquiry into the nature of loss, kinship and survival.”
—Tash Aw, author of We, the Survivors

“How do you carry your ghosts across an ocean? Wandering Souls is a novel about survival and loss and ways they cannot always be untangled. Pin delicately handles the story of lives built despite the greatest of wounds.”
—Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Starling Days

“A beautiful meditation on the ties that bind us and the circumstances that separate us. Pin writes of the consequences of war and subsequent displacement with insight and compassion. May this pave the way for more stories that not only open our eyes to the lives of the Vietnamese diaspora but will also enrich our lives in the way Wandering Souls does.”
—Helena Lee, editor of East Side Voices

“A searing, sweeping and intimate story of such heart and scope. Measured, multilayered and beautiful. A novel I will remember, and recommend.”
—Rachel Long, author of My Darling from the Lions

“The humanity in this novel pulses with tenderness and honesty and blooms from the page like it does in the hearts of these characters. Cecile Pin has delivered a profoundly unforgettable tale.”
—An Yu, author of Braised Pork

“A haunting, gut-wrenching story, Wandering Souls is more than a tender portrait of three child-refugees stuck in Lost and Found, and their journeys through our messy, fragmented world. It’s a defiant statement about migration, prejudice, and the human spirit for freedom and independence. Cecile Pin summons multi-directional voices to evoke the aftermath of Vietnam War, the refugee camps in Hong Kong and Britain, and the tough urban landscape in which the living negotiate with the dead in order to survive and thrive. It’s a brave, vivid, investigative debut that sends shivers up the spine.”
—Kit Fan, author of Diamond Hill

Wandering Souls is a poetic, heartbreaking, and ultimately triumphant celebration of the human spirit. Casting well-known history in new light, Pin offers a capacious rendering of the love, loss, and hope of migration. Stunning and unforgettable.”
—Qian Julie Wang, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Country

“Vietnam's history is at last being written by its people, who were most altered by the war and its aftermath. This deeply affecting novel charts one family's displacement, estrangement, and return: loss passed on like an inheritance to successive generations. Wandering Souls is more than testament, more than fiction. I am full of admiration.”
—Jeet Thayil, Booker Prize-shortlisted author of Narcopolis

“Clear-hearted and moving, Wandering Souls tells one of the most important stories of our times, and you can feel, as you read, all it has taken Cecile Pin to write it.”
—Lucy Caldwell, author of Intimacies

“An intimate story, a political argument and a reflection on grief and inherited trauma. Wandering Souls is elegant, considered and moving with unusual but perfect form”
—Kate Sawyer, author of The Stranding

“A heartbreaking novel about Vietnamese siblings who arrive as refugees to Thatcher’s Britain. Chronicling the family’s life right up until the present day, it’s a deeply affecting reckoning with history’
i-D Magazine, Books to watch out for

“With concision and clarity, the author shows a deep understanding of how upheaval can splinter families.”
Publishers Weekly



Product Details
ISBN: 9781250863461
ISBN-10: 1250863465
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: March 21st, 2023
Pages: 240
Language: English