The Time In Between

Publisher: Emblem Editions
In search of love, absolution, or forgiveness, Charles Boatman leaves the Fraser Valley of British Columbia and returns mysteriously to Vietnam, the country where he fought twenty-nine years earlier as a young, reluctant soldier. But his new encounters seem irreconcilable with his memories.

When he disappears, his daughter Ada, and her brother, Jon, travel to Vietnam, to the streets of Danang and beyond, to search for him. Their quest takes them into the heart of a country that is at once incomprehensible, impassive, and beautiful. Chasing her father’s shadow for weeks, following slim leads, Ada feels increasingly hopeless. Yet while Jon slips into the urban nightlife to avoid what he most fears, Ada finds herself growing closer to her missing father — and strong enough to forgive him and bear the heartbreaking truth of his long-kept secret.

Bergen’s marvellously drawn characters include Lieutenant Dat, the police officer who tries to seduce Ada by withholding information; the boy Yen, an orphan, who follows Ada and claims to be her guide; Jack Gouds, an American expatriate and self-styled missionary; his strong-willed and unhappy wife, Elaine, whose desperate encounters with Charles in the days before his disappearance will always haunt her; and Hoang Vu, the artist and philosopher who will teach Ada about the complexity of love and betrayal. We also come to learn about the reclusive author Dang Tho, whose famous wartime novel pulls at Charles in ways he can’t explain.

Moving between father and daughter, the present and the past, The Time in Between is a luminous, unforgettable novel about one family, two cultures, and a profound emotional journey in search of elusive answers.


The typhoon arrived that night. Ada woke to the sound of rain driving against the windows. Above them, on the rooftop, chairs fell and banged against the washstand. The corrugated tin on the stairwell roof worked loose and flapped for an hour before it broke free and fell like a whirling blade down onto the street. Ada was...
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1. David Bergen’s writing style is distinctive — so plain as to seem “styleless,” yet capable of great eloquence. Choose some sentences or paragraphs that strike you as particularly successful, and analyze what gives them their power.

2. On the surface, this could be described as a sad book...

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“Luminous. . . . In this meditation on the aftereffects of violence and failed human connection, Bergen’s austere prose illustrates the arbitrary nature of life’s defining moments.”
-Publishers Weekly

“A beautifully composed, unflinching and harrowing story. Perhaps the best fiction yet to confront and comprehend the legacy of Vietnam.”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[Bergen] preserves the exquisiteness of the Vietnamese culture, lending a unique beauty to the story. Highly recommended.”
-Library Journal

“Bergen’s best writing evokes the absence of what has been lost and, even more terribly, what is not there to be found.”
-Globe and Mail

“With his thoughtful dialogue, Bergen makes the characters’ heartache seep off the page.”

“David Bergen is a master of taut, spare prose that’s both erotic and hypnotic. Set mostly in modern-day Viet Nam, The Time In-Between is a deeply moving meditation on love and loss, truth and its elusiveness, and a compelling portrait of a haunted man, Charles Boatman, and his daughter who seeks to solve the mystery of his disappearance.”
–Miriam Toews, author of A Complicated Kindness

“David Bergen’s The Time In-Between is about how children inherit their parents’ ghosts and the elusive nature of grace. It also makes a stunning connection between the wars that are fought out in the world, and the ones that cleave families in private. Ravishingly told and deeply felt, it’s a huge accomplishment.”
–Michael Redhill, author of Martin Sloane

The Time In-Between is a spare, suspenseful meditation on the long reach of war – to the places where it is fought, the people who fight it, and the people who love those people. In portraying the lingering devastation left in one soldier’s life by a war he fought a generation ago, Bergen’s novel could not be timelier or more chilling.”
–Jennifer Egan, author of Look at Me

“In this elegant novel, David Bergen weaves a precise and resonant prose through the connected histories of people touched by love, death and war. A lovely, sad, and ultimately redeeming work of fiction.”
–Brady Udall, The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint

“Intelligent, humane, deep in its sympathetic understanding, David Bergen’s novel explores the haunted life of the Boatman family in the late aftermath of the Vietnam War. There is in this novel not a single sentimental or euphemistic line; and because the writing is honest, the characters are real, and their struggle as a family has the ring of truth.”
–Donald Pfarrer, The Fearless Man: a Novel of Vietnam

From the Hardcover edition.