Barry Brennessel — Mystery, Romance, Suspense & Humo(u)r





When his father leaves Thái Nguyên City for the northernmost reaches of French Indochina, Bùi Vân Minh must shoulder new responsibilities to help keep the family afloat. His mother’s blindness and his uncle’s caustic personality add to the young man’s challenges.

A chance meeting with a captivating youth, Ngô Công Thao, throws Minh’s life off-kilter in a most exciting and confounding way.

The young men soon discover their feelings for one another transcend mere friendship. But the struggles under French colonial rule and the effects of the Great War alter their lives to a degree they never could have imagined.

This novella expands and significantly develops a story that first appeared in the highly acclaimed anthology A PRIDE OF POPPIES. The author’s screenplay adaptation of the story received an honourable mention and was a finalist in the 15th annual American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest, judged by Francis Ford Coppola, and also won the Best LGBT Feature Screenplay category at the New Renaissance Film Festival, Amsterdam 2018.


Ánh Sáng is heartbreakingly honest. It’s fiction that deeply immerses the reader in the period.

Barry Brennessel knows how to write innocent and tender love juxtaposed against a tough time, particularly first love. He has an ability to write characters that speak to me on a visceral level, just like Minh and Thao did.Kazza K., On Top Down Under Book Reviews

Brennessel’s writing is stark and neat. He never pulls his punches. He packs rage, confusion, and fear into Minh’s thoughts and dialogue, no matter how brief. I can’t believe this is only a novella-length work, because there’s so much good story in so few words. If an author manages to write historical fiction that makes you want to read a dozen more books on the subject, you know he’s passionate about his work.

The romance between Minh and Thao, a local farmer, is sweet and spare, always popping up when both Minh and the readers just need a little bit of hope and sunshine. Jess, Love Bytes 

What I like about the writing here is that it is clear and to the point—- there are no literary or syntax surprises. Brennessel is also excellent at writing emotions and he takes us through the gamut of fear and confusion and ultimately rage.

I see no other way this story could have ended and it totally shook me for days. — Reviews by Amos Lassen

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