Apocalyptic Vision in Laotian Short Story “The Roar of a Distant War” by Viliya Ketavong

Chitra Sankaran


“The Roar of a Distant War” begins with a picnic in Southern California on the fourth of July. However, for Nanda, the fireworks-display brings back memories of the civil war in Laos that was known to the rest of the world as the Vietnam War. Nanda’s kneejerk reaction to the fireworks display is to drop to the ground, since, as she confesses she was “a child of war”. The narrative traces the trials faced by a family in Laos caught between communist forces and the American army. This paper examines the statement made by Martha F Lee that “In all its forms, environmentalism is – at least marginally – apocalyptic” (ix). It goes on to argue that unlike traditional apocalyptic narratives that are mostly ‘user-oriented’ - a term used by Herbert Gans to discuss the fantastical nature of apocalyptic fictions and to point to the distance that mostly exists between history and apocalyptic narratives - Ketavong’s apocalyptic short story is based on recent history, real politics and human instrumentality.

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@Journal of Ecocriticism. ISSN 1916-1549