RIYA DE LOS REYES WINS IN OUR SUBSCRIBER DRIVE! diaCRITICS wants to add 100 new subscribers! The 25th, 50th, 75th, and 100th subscribers (and those who referred them) get their pick of prizes. Riya de los Reyes is our 50th subscriber and has chosen The Quiet American by Graham Greene and Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam by Andrew X. Pham as her prizes.  If you enjoy reading our posts as much Riya does, then we encourage you to subscribe!  And if you want to refer people and are on networked blogs, you can invite all your friends on Facebook to join via networked blogs! We are well on our way to our 75th new subscriber.

Have you subscribed to diaCRITICS yet? Subscribe and win prizes! Read more details.

A little more information about Riya de los Reyes comes below.


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Where are you from?

Tell us something else about yourself. 

I am originally from the Philippines, but my family moved to Singapore in 1998 and we have been living here for the past fifteen years. I am not Vietnamese, but I am part of a diasporic community. 🙂 I am currently doing marketing for NUS Press, the academic publishing arm of the National University of Singapore, where I graduated with a degree in History in 2011. I am also an amateur/aspiring curator with an interest in the general history, culture, politics and art of Southeast Asia as a region, among other things.

Do you have a favorite Vietnamese or Vietnamese diasporic work of art? If so, tell us about it. 

My favorite Vietnamese work of art is Harmony in Green: Two Sisters by Le Pho (1938, Vietnam). It depicts an idealized/romanticized painting of two sisters, but also the seamless and silky blending of Eastern and Western art techniques. I remembered reading about it in a book and I found it interesting because I figured it was referencing the Trung sisters, who famously fought against the Chinese invaders and symbolized independence and courage, and yet the painting betrays an acceptance of a different kind of foreign influence. Regardless of what it symbolizes, I find the painting beautiful and the colors soothing. The painting has recently been acquired by the National Art Gallery, Singapore.

Harmony in Green: Two Sisters by Le Pho (1938, Vietnam)

On a personal level, the painting also reminds me of P.S. Kroyer’s Døtrene Benzon, which I bought in Skagen, Denmark as a postcard to send to my mother in Singapore. It was a souvenir to remind her of my sister and I, her only children. I was studying in Denmark for a semester then and my sister began her medical studies in Germany; it was the first time we had been apart from my mother for an extended period of time. My father travels frequently for work, so there was a period when my mother was all alone in Singapore once my sister and I left to study overseas. I know that the postcard is one of my mother’s most prized possessions.

Did someone refer you to subscribe to diacritics? 

I came across diaCritics while doing research to publicize our soon-to-be-published book, It’s a Living: Work and Life in Vietnam Today, for which the author (Gerard Sasges) will be doing a book tour on the West Coast in the coming months.

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the quiet americanRiya de los Reyes chose The Quiet American by Graham Greene, who was an English writer, playwright, and literary critic. Much of his works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world.

“I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused,” Graham Greene’s narrator Fowler remarks of Alden Pyle, the eponymous “Quiet American” of what is perhaps the most controversial novel of his career. Pyle is the brash young idealist sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission to Saigon, where the French Army struggles against the Vietminh guerrillas.

Originally published in 1956 and twice adapted to film, The Quiet American remains a terrifiying and prescient portrait of innocence at large.


catfish and mandalaRiya has also chosen Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam, by Andrew X. Pham, who writes and lives on the Thai-Laos border in a traditional wooden farm bungalow he built on the Mekong River. He teaches writing and occasionally leads bicycle tours in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.

Catfish and Mandala is the story of an American odyssey—a solo bicycle voyage around the Pacific Rim to Vietnam—made by a young Vietnamese-American man in pursuit of both his adopted homeland and his forsaken fatherland.

Winner of the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize
New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Winner of the Whiting Writers’ Award
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Best Book of the Year


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