The Broken Country is a book-length essay on cultural trauma and the inter-generational legacies of war. In 2012, a young Vietnamese man named Kiet Thanh Ly walked into a downtown Salt Lake City megastore, purchased a knife, and began stabbing white male passersby in the parking lot, purportedly in revenge for the war in Vietnam: a war that, due to Ly’s age, he never immediately experienced.
The Broken Country explores how Ly’s case, and the case of other recent immigrant and refugee perpetrators of violent crimes, may be at the heart of a larger discussion of war’s trauma, historical memory, cultural assimilation, and identity: issues that refugees and veterans alike must face when repatriating after war. Through investigative reporting, cultural criticism, oral history and personal reflection, The Broken Country considers the sheer number of people psychologically wounded by violence.
Paisley Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, “The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee,”and four books of poetry: “A Crash of Rhinos,” “Six Girls Without Pants,” “The Invention of the Kaleidoscope” and “Animal Eye.” She has won numerous prizes for her poetry. She teaches at the University of Utah, where she is also the creator and editor of the community web project”Mapping Salt Lake City.”In May 2017, she was named Utah’s Poet Laureate. Her latest book released in September 2017 is, The Broken Country: On Trauma, Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam.