Catching Shrimp with Bare Hands is the true story of Lượng La, a boy growing up in the Mekong Delta in the midst of the Vietnam War. When the 1968 Tết Offensive forces Lượng’s family to flee the countryside, his mother continues to travel back and forth to their island farm despite threats from the Việt Cộng and nearby firefights.
Out on their farm in the middle of the Mekong River, Lượng wants to catch fish and slingshot birds, but Việt Cộng, called mysterious misters by the villagers, stop by his family’s hut and stay. “The frog dies because of its big mouth,” his mother warns. The mysterious misters behead a neighbor, and Lượng’s aunt goes missing.
Lượng plans to join the Army as soon as he’s old enough to fight, but the war ends before he has a chance. Communism descends, pulling him back in time to a land without electricity or fuel where his family has to hide the books that haven’t already been burned. Propaganda that “kneads their skulls,” neighbors spying on each other, and the threat of starvation drive Lượng to escalating acts of defiance. About to get caught by the authorities, he drops out of school to help his family build a boat to escape.
Catching Shrimp with Bare Hands: The Boy from the Mekong Delta is available at Amazon in print and Kindle versions, as an iBook, on Google Play and in local bookstores.
Book Excerpt: Unconditional Surrender (30 April 1975)
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Good evening Michelle,
A couple of months ago my wife and I stayed with you parents. In a discussion, I mention I had been in Vietnam in the An Loc and Loc Nin area and that I had often wondered about the people we left behind.
Your father then gave us gave us your book “Catching Shrimp With Bare Hands”. I just started reading it up a couple of days ago and have just finish it.
Even though it is based in the Mekong Delta area of Vietnam, thank you for writing it. I truly appreciate the book as it helps to provide a balance.
It is a great story highlighting the strength and weaknesses of people under stress.
Thank you so much for reading my book, Dave. I’m glad that it filled in a missing piece for you. I appreciate your comments–you are right about the heart of the story. Thank you. My husband is grateful for the freedom you provided during that time.
Catching Shrimp is a captivating memoir that drops you into 1968 Vietnam and the tragedy of war. We follow brave Luong through his youthful adventures in the Mekong Delta amidst superstitions, traditions, hunger, mosquitoes, and the endless struggle to farm the land. Luong navigates through bombs and gunfire and interacts boldly with soldiers from both sides.
Despite losing the war and enduring the communist, takeover Luong stays true to his ideals. While the landscape of war is stark, his many adventures are endearing and include laugh-out-loud moments. This haunting memoir leaves the reader wanting the next book.
Joye Emmens, author of She’s Gone
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I have finally had a few moments to really take in your site and it’s great story of life!
Although you and I have never met, you know I somehow managed to hit it off with you and Luong.
I guess I am just attracted to folks of great character.
Gotta run now…..I would love a signed copy of the book when it is released, signed by both of you, of course.
Great website full of interesting stories — looking forward to the book! Aloha Ellie http://www.elliecrowe.com
The book sounds great. looking forward to the full version.
It’s nice to know the subject of the book, and the writer’
Great story. I hope someday there will be Chinese translation, and millions more will see the parallel to their own life.
This is about the most tantalizing summary of your book. I love how you kept it brief but still included the exotic names of the mysterious misters and his mother’s warning quote about the frog to entice readers. Can’t wait to read it.