Nguyen Qui Duc, the proprietor of a salon and exhibition house that turned a Hanoi landmark, the place each Vietnamese and foreigners gathered for music, poetry and lengthy nights of drinks and sushi, died on Nov. 22 in a hospital in Hanoi. He was 65.
The trigger was lung most cancers, mentioned his sister and sole survivor, Dieu-Ha Nguyen.
A struggle refugee as a youngster, Mr. Duc discovered success as a radio commentator in america earlier than returning to Vietnam in 2006 to make a brand new life there. His magnetic persona drew a various clientele to the salon, from underground artists to ambassadors.
The salon “offered shelter and camaraderie for brand new artistic voices in Vietnam that blossomed after the trauma of struggle,” Tom Miller, an American lawyer and longtime good friend, wrote in an e mail.
The experimental artwork installations that Mr. Duc displayed examined official limits in that Communist-run nation, however in what Mr. Miller known as a cat-and-mouse sport with the authorities, very like that of the artist Ai Weiwei in China, Mr. Duc discovered methods to proceed.
He gave his salon a whimsical identify drawn from Vietnamese schoolbooks: Tadioto, which implies “we go by automobile.”
“It’s the very first thing child Duc discovered to learn,” mentioned T.T. Nhu, a relative, “and when he returned to Vietnam, it was like studying to learn once more.”
Mr. Duc as soon as described Tadioto as “a gallery, an occasion house, a gathering level for artistic and unorthodox individuals and a consolation house for expats.”
As a refuge from the chaos of fast-modernizing Hanoi, Tadioto, full with sushi-ramen and whiskey bars, was a mellow model of Rick’s Cafe Americain within the film “Casablanca,” with out its onerous fringe of hustle and intrigue.
Tadioto turned an compulsory cease for journalists, diplomats and high-profile vacationers, just like the movie star chef Anthony Bourdain, whom Mr. Duc escorted round Hanoi, and the singer Tom Waits, who carried out there informally.
Tadioto embodied the 2 sides of a person who, like many refugees, continued to seek for an id lengthy after being uprooted.
“I now not have a single id,” he wrote in a 2008 essay titled “America Contained in the Vietnamese Soul,” printed on the web site of the PBS documentary sequence “Frontline.”
“I’m cut up in two — components of me nonetheless deeply Vietnamese, components of me totally American. There are occasions I can hardly clarify myself to myself.”
In a Fb tribute, Kim Ninh, a fellow former refugee who for a few years represented the Asia Basis in Hanoi, wrote of their shared sense of dislocation.
“Human ache and struggling coloured his life,” she wrote, “a part of the household historical past, a part of the nationwide historical past, a part of the world he tried to make sense of. Or at the very least, to doc. Till the top, we talked about our joint endeavor to search out ‘house.’ We knew it was a futile effort, however it permeates the whole lot: Duc’s work as a journalist and as a author; his travels, that extraordinary sense of aesthetics the place the love of shadows was at all times current.”
Along with his work in radio — he was an announcer on KALW and KQED in San Francisco, contributed to NPR after which had his personal NPR program, “Pacific Time” — Mr. Duc printed poems and tales in quite a lot of magazines, together with Metropolis Lights Overview in San Francisco; wrote a play; produced a tv documentary; and translated Vietnamese poetry and fiction for publication in English.
“Duc was a Renaissance man, made artwork, made robots, made sculptures, designed homes, designed the whole lot,” Ms. Nhu mentioned. “His quicksilver thoughts was at all times on to the subsequent factor.”
However his life amounted to greater than the sum of its components; as a good friend, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen wrote on Fb, “I consider his life as his most vital murals.”
Nguyen Qui Duc (pronounced nwin-kwee-dook) was born in Dalat, South Vietnam, on Sept. 16, 1958, to aristocratic mother and father. His father, Nguyen Van Dai, was the civilian governor of Hue Metropolis, and his mom, born Nguyen-Khoa Dieu-Lieu, was a faculty principal who misplaced her job after the Communist victory in 1975; she was lowered to promoting noodles to help herself.
Mr. Duc tells the household’s story of separation and endurance in an intimate 2009 memoir, “The place the Ashes Are: The Odyssey of a Vietnamese Household.”
He was 10 years previous when the North Vietnamese captured his father throughout a army marketing campaign in 1968 often called the Tet offensive and imprisoned him for greater than a decade. When the struggle ended, Mr. Duc, at 17, managed to flee on his personal by ship to america after which made his technique to Ohio, the place he joined a brother and sister who had already relocated there.
His mom remained in Vietnam with one other sister, Nguyen Thi Dieu-Quynh,who died of kidney failure in 1979 after a lifelong battle with psychological sickness.
Mr. Duc accomplished his highschool training in Virginia and have become a United States citizen in 1981. He then spent a yr in Indonesia working in a refugee camp serving to the so-called Vietnamese boat individuals who had landed there.
In 1984, after his father’s launch, he was reunited along with his mother and father in San Francisco, the place he had already begun his radio profession as a reporter and commentator.
For a person of unsure id, Mr. Duc mentioned he discovered radio an excellent medium. “I like the truth that you’re faceless, virtually anonymous, and are only a voice,” he advised a web-based journal, And of Different Issues, in 2015. “You may get intimate, authoritative, pleasant, heard however not seen … a anonymous, faceless voice permits individuals an creativeness.”
Whereas in San Francisco he married a British lady, however they divorced amicably shortly afterward.
Mr. Duc returned to Vietnam for the primary time in 1989 to report a report for Nationwide Public Radio. Whereas he was there he recovered his sister’s ashes from a Buddhist temple and surreptitiously carried them again to San Francisco, symbolically reuniting his household.
He moved completely to Vietnam in 2006, bringing with him his widowed mom (his father died in 2001), who had dementia, and settling her in a retreat outdoors Hanoi till her demise in 2011.
He determined to remain, he advised NPR in 2015, to “end the person that I used to be meant to be,” having been “disrupted, interrupted to go to America and develop into someone else.”