Single White Female in Hanoi

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 April, 2012, 12:00am


Single White Female in Hanoi
by Carolyn Shine
Transit Lounge (e-book)

When Single White Female in Hanoi popped up as a new Kindle release, I had misgivings about reviewing a book written by an old acquaintance and the subject matter, which often disappoints. Westerners moving to Asia for short stints, then writing about their experiences, often come up with observations that do little to further understanding of place or people. Australian Carolyn Shine's book, however, deserves a gold star for its insight, honesty, humour and such detail that readers will wish for her clarity of expression. Having moved to Vietnam in 2002 Shine, who worked as a musician and freelance writer before succumbing last month to cancer, quickly found employment at an English-language school and at the National Economic Review, where she despaired about reporters' lax attitude to statistics, then realised that owing to distorted media coverage for decades they presumed no one took reported figures seriously. The book delves into Shine's search for a Vietnamese lover, which is one area that might grate: too many people are 'breathtakingly beautiful' or 'tear-jerkingly attractive'.