By Margot Mifflin
Updated March 26, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

As the first Vietnamese novel to be published in the U.S., Duong Thu Huong’s Paradise of the Blind draws back the curtain on postwar Vietnam, exposing both the country’s rich cultural history and the governmental corruption that is resolutely sabotaging it. Set in the ’80s, it describes a village girl’s conflicting allegiances to both her loving, bourgeois aunt and her Communist uncle, whose crooked politics tear three families apart. Paradise was published in Vietnam in 1988 during a brief period of openness, then banned after it became a best-seller. Intricately wrought, this is a literary jewel dripping with political nitroglycerine. A