Echoes Etched in Time: Holding Onto the Past in Nguyen Duy Tri’s The Last Sunshine 2022

Nestled within the pages of “The Last Sunshine” (2022), Nguyen Duy Tri paints a poignant portrait of loss, memory, and the fleeting nature of time. Through the introspective lens of Minh, a photographer struggling with the gradual decline of his memory and the impending closure of his family’s photo studio, Tri weaves a narrative that resonates with anyone who has ever grappled with the bittersweet ache of nostalgia and the struggle to hold onto the fading echoes of the past.

A Fading Palette of Memories

Minh, once a renowned photographer renowned for capturing the essence of a moment in a single frame, finds himself facing the cruel irony of his own memories losing their focus. Photographs, once his tools of preservation, become taunting reminders of what he is losing. The studio, a repository of captured moments from generations past, becomes a poignant symbol of the inevitable passage of time, where each fading print whispers a story of joy, sorrow, and lives lived.

Flashes of the Past, Fragments of Self

The narrative unfolds through fragments of memory, echoing photographs themselves, offering glimpses into Minh’s life and the rich history of his family. We relive pivotal moments through his faded lens – the joy of his grandfather capturing the first photograph in the studio, the bittersweet love story between his parents, the fleeting spark of his own youthful dreams. These shards of the past, though blurred and incomplete, form a mosaic of experiences that define who Minh is, reminding us of the intricate tapestry of memories that shapes our identities.

The Fragile Embrace of the Lens

As Minh’s own memories blur, his connection to his camera intensifies. Each click becomes a desperate attempt to recapture the vanishing moments, to freeze-frame the ever-flowing river of time. His photographs, though tinged with the melancholy of his fading recollection, take on a poignant beauty, capturing not only the faces and landscapes but also the emotions and fleeting moments that reside in the spaces between.

Letting Go with Open Hands

“The Last Sunshine” grapples not only with the pain of loss but also with the acceptance of its inevitability. Minh’s journey leads him towards a bittersweet understanding that holding onto the past too tightly can rob him of the present. He learns to find solace in the fading echoes of his memories, to cherish the photographs not as substitutes for reality but as testaments to the beauty and fragility of lived experiences.

Beyond the Dusty Frames

The story transcends the personal narrative of Minh’s struggle. It becomes a metaphor for the collective human experience, reminding us of the ephemeral nature of time and the preciousness of our shared memories. Tri compels us to question the ways we document our lives, to ponder the value of captured moments against the richness of lived experiences, and to learn to embrace the fleeting nature of beauty, both in the world around us and within ourselves.


Nguyen Duy Tri’s “The Last Sunshine” is not a melancholy elegy for the past; it’s a bittersweet ode to the beauty of memory, the power of photographs, and the resilience of the human spirit. Through Minh’s poignant journey, Tri reminds us that while time may fade our memories and close chapters on our lives, the essence of who we are, the love we share, and the moments we capture with an open heart continue to resonate within us, echoing softly like the last rays of sunshine before dusk.


  • What genre is “The Last Sunshine”?

The novella blends elements of literary fiction, magical realism, and coming-of-age narratives, creating a unique and thought-provoking reading experience.

  • Is the story dark and depressing?

While dealing with themes of loss and memory fading, Tri balances the melancholy with moments of beauty, tenderness, and even humor. The focus lies on acceptance and finding meaning in the fleeting nature of things.

  • Is photography a significant theme in the story?

Photography becomes a central metaphor for memory, preservation, and the struggle to hold onto the past. Through Minh’s lens, we gain insight into the power of capturing moments and the emotional resonance of photographs as time capsules of past experiences.

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