Ah, the always awkward ‘Q’. Feel free to add your own choices. Any book title, or the surname of an author, as long as it starts with this troublesome letter. I had to do some research for ‘Q’. Although I discovered a surprising number of titles, I also realised that I had read hardly any of them. I have already used what would have been my top choice, ‘And Quiet Flows The Don’, so I am limited to just one book title in this letter. As a consequence, this is a very short post!
‘The Quiet American’ was written by Graham Greene, and published in 1956. It is about an inexperienced young American arriving in Vietnam during the years of upheaval against French Colonial rule, sent by the US government with a secret mission to carry out. He meets a world-weary reporter, Englishman Thomas Fowler, who has settled in Saigon with an attractive local girlfriend, running the field office of The Times newspaper. Fowler’s cynicism contrasts well with the commitment and enthusiasm of Pyle, the American, a young man who believes he has the answer to the problems of that war-torn country.
Greene based this novel on his own experiences in Vietnam, where he worked as a war correspondent for western newspapers. He could see the growing influence of America there, and the involvement of the CIA seeking to establish a puppet government, under the influence of the US. He foretells the Vietnam War that followed the defeat of the French, and highlights the cultural differences that Pyle cannot understand. This was an important novel, and attracted criticism at the time, being labelled ‘Anti-American’. It has been filmed twice, most recently in 2002, starring Michael Caine as Fowler. But the book is much better than either film.
That’s it. Just the one. Good luck with ‘Q’.