Quan Barry mixes Vietnam with magical realism

'She Weeps Each Time You're Born' by Quan Berry
'She Weeps Each Time You're Born' by Quan Barry
Courtesy of Random House

In "She Weeps Each Time You're Born," the award-winning poet Quan Barry makes the leap to fiction.

Her debut novel follows a young girl, born at the height of the Vietnam War, who can hear the voices of the dead. As the story unwinds, readers get an intimate view of a country in turmoil.

According to Random House, "Here is a Vietnam we've never encountered before."

Barry was born in Saigon and raised in Boston. On a recent trip back to Vietnam, she stumbled across the spark of inspiration for "She Weeps." As Barry told NPR:

"I went back to Vietnam in 2010, and when I was there, that's when I discovered for the first time this story about a woman named Phan Thi Bich Hang, who is the 'official psychic' of Vietnam. She was bitten by a rabid dog when she was five years old, and when she came out of her coma, she can hear the voices of the dead. And the government actually uses her to help them find the remains of soldiers and other people ... and when I heard that, I'm like, that's what this novel is supposed to be about."

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