lê thi diem thúy was born in 1972 in Phan Thiet, a coastal city in what was then called South Vietnam. In the aftermath of the war in Vietnam, she and her family were among the millions of Vietnamese fleeing the country by boat. Rescued at sea by a U.S. Naval carrier and taken to a refugee camp in Singapore, they were eventually sponsored by an American relief agency and resettled in San Diego, California.
While a student at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, she wrote the short story »The Gangster We Are All Looking For«, a fictionalized account of her own beginnings. The story was published in »The Massachusetts Review« and then excerpted in »Harper’s Magazine«. Made up of vignettes rich in imagery and echo, it showed a Vietnamese family struggling to make their way in America. This story was the nucleus of what would become her début novel.
Published in 2003 »The Gangster We Are All Looking For« was one of the first novels to look at the aftermath of the war in Vietnam not through the point of view of a returning American G.I., but rather through a Vietnamese family u pr ooted in America and haunted by their memories of Vietnam. The novel explored the psychological as well as the physical impact of war and dislocation. About its writing the author remarked, »I struggled for many years to find a form that would be true to these characters’ lives, a form shaped as much by silence and absence, by time seeming to stop, to halt, as by it flowing on«. The novel earned enthusiastic reviews and marked Ms. lê as a young writer to watch out for.
In addition to writing fiction, lê thi diem thúy is also an accomplished poet and solo performance artist. Her solo performance works are »Red Fiery Summer«, »the bodies between us«, and »Cartes Postales«. She has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and residencies from the Headlands Center for the Arts and the Lannan Foundation. She resides in Northampton, Massachusetts and is currently at work on her second novel.
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