Memory Piece

Lisa Ko

Echoes of Trauma: A Review of “Memory Piece” by Lisa Ko

In “Memory Piece,” Lisa Ko crafts a hauntingly beautiful and lyrical novel that delves into the enduring legacy of the Vietnam War on a Vietnamese American family. The narrative weaves together the perspectives of multiple characters, spanning generations and continents, as they grapple with the fragmented memories and unhealed wounds of the past.


  • Vivid Storytelling: Ko’s prose is evocative and poetic, transporting the reader into the characters’ inner worlds and capturing the essence of their joys, sorrows, and traumas. She creates a tapestry of voices and experiences, each contributing to a nuanced understanding of the war’s lasting impact.
  • Multigenerational Exploration: The novel explores the war’s effects across generations, from the direct experiences of the Vietnamese refugees who fled to America to the struggles of their children and grandchildren grappling with cultural identity, historical burdens, and the lingering ghosts of their family’s past.
  • Emotional Depth: “Memory Piece” tackles complex emotions with sensitivity and honesty. It portrays the characters’ grief, guilt, anger, and resilience without shying away from the raw pain inflicted by war and displacement.


  • Fragmented Narrative: The story unfolds through a non-linear structure, jumping between characters and timelines. While this approach allows for a multifaceted perspective, it might require a patient reader willing to piece together the narrative puzzle.
  • Focus on Trauma: The novel delves deeply into the emotional and psychological trauma experienced by the characters. While this is central to the story’s themes, readers seeking a lighter or more uplifting read might find the constant presence of trauma emotionally challenging.
  • Limited Resolution: The novel prioritizes emotional exploration over providing definitive answers or clear-cut resolutions. This can leave some readers yearning for a more conclusive ending that ties up loose ends.

Overall: “Memory Piece” is a powerful and poignant novel that offers a profound meditation on the enduring legacy of war, the complexities of cultural identity, and the enduring strength of the human spirit. While its emotional depth and fragmented structure might not appeal to all readers, it is a rewarding read for those seeking a thought-provoking and beautifully written exploration of historical trauma and its enduring impact on families and individuals.

Recommendation: Highly recommended for readers interested in literary fiction, historical novels, and stories that explore the multifaceted experiences of immigrants and refugees. Be prepared for an emotionally charged and thought-provoking reading experience.