|An ESL Student and Her Teacher Fight Injustice
Hart has written a powerful, arresting first novel that explores the teacher/student relationship in a new and complex way. This is a book about heroism, about the scars of Vietnam, and, ultimately, about love. T. Coraghessan Boyle
Hart puts an unusual spin on the relationship between student and teacher in this promising debut novel, which begins when a Vietnamese student named Tina Le signs up for an ESL language course taught by disgruntled, deeply damaged Vietnam vet John Goddard at a California state college.
Hart finds a nice prose rhythm as he shifts back and forth between Goddard and his student, and he avoids the obvious clichés as he explores the nuances of their relationship and the inherent inequities of the academic system that brings them together.
This is a solidly impressive debut by a writer worth watching. Publishers Weekly
William Hart has written a novel exposing the last acceptable prejuduce, in which the English language is used as a stick to keep our immigrant population down. This is a remarkable book by a remarkable writer who has only just begun to move the world with his conscience and his art. Mark C. Bruce, Swan Duckling Press
In William Harts Never Fade Away an English Department offers writing courses that jettison from school immigrant and minority students who cant meet the departments narrow standards of competency. The students have entrance-level SAT scores, but theyre disappearing in droves through the trap-door of their introductory English classes.
An untenured and unruly instructor refuses to cooperate when the Department fails one of his students, a Vietnamese math major with a genius for storytelling. The teacher manages to keep the woman in school, but is fired for his defiance. To fight back he files a grievance, which mushrooms into a public hearing. From day one interested students cram the auditorium.
The story in Never Fade Away is told through alternating entries from two journals. One is kept by the teacher, a Vietnam vet and novelist; the other by the student he defends, a refugee from South Vietnam devoted to her studies, to Buddhism, and to her familyalive only as ghosts. Privy to the pairs intimate thoughts, we watch a deep symbiotic friendship develop. Their involvement reaches a crux at the hearing, when their relationship is painted as a romance, and teacher and student are forced to examine the basis of their friendship.
William Hart earned a doctorate in English at USC and has taught basic writing/ESL at Los Angeles universities. His stories and poems appear widely in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. He is the author of four poetry collections, two of which won national awards. He also writes media scripts, most often for his wife, PBS documentary filmmaker Jayasri Majumdar.