The metro shudders to a halt – an unattended bag has been found, and terrorism is suspected. For the narrator, a young Vietnamese woman teaching English in the Parisian suburbs, time stops. Her son falls asleep on her shoulder and a long interior monologue begins, looking back over her life thus far. From her constrained childhood in post-communist Hanoi, to a long period of study in Leningrad during the Gorbachev period, she tries to understand everything that has brought her to this point.

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