Post Colonial Diasporic Literature in English

Monica Truong: A Biography

Christina Fan, English 365, Northwestern University (2004)

Monique Truong was born on May 13, 1968 in Saigon, South Vietnam. She came as a refugee to the United States in April of 1975 with her mother at the age of six ("Monique Truong -- Interview"). She completed her undergraduate studies at Yale University, graduating with a B.A. in literature in 1990 ("Meet the Writers"). After graduation, Truong's list of published works included a "short story, essay, and academic paper" ("Meet the Writers Monique Truong"). For the next two years, she found employment as a paralegal for firms in San Francisco and New York City ("Meet the Writers Monique Truong"). Truong went on to obtain a law degree from Colombia University School of Law in 1995 ("Meet the Writers"). Afterwards, she worked as an attorney in New York City for over three years. She is quoted as saying "I knew that the legal profession wasn't for me after the first week of law school" adding that she was "miserable" as an attorney ("Meet the Writers Monique Truong").

Truong returned to serious writing in 1997, as a coeditor for the anthology Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry & Prose. During this time she wrote the short story "Seeds," which commenced the creation of her acclaimed work, The Book of Salt. This short story would later become an integral part of her novel. It also influenced her to quit her full time job as an attorney. Truong then applied to and was accepted into the Yaddo writers' colony. She continued to work occasionally as an attorney, in order to pay her bills ("Meet the Writers Monique Truong").

Monique Truong's novel, The Book of Salt, was published in June of 2004. The novel deals with themes such as language, diaspora, and Orientalism while depicting the life of a Vietnamese chef living and working in Paris, France during the 1930's. Although her novel delves into Vietnamese culture and identity, Truong does not ascribe authority on the subject to herself. When asked to describe the country of her birth, Truong expressed, "If Vietnam is a tattoo, then I would prefer to think of it as an S that spans the hollow between my breasts or that hooks around my belly button, a beautiful green dragon that I placed there all those years ago, my secret scar to keep" ("Into Thin Air"). She is also quoted as saying, "Remember, I am no Vietnam expert. I am just a one-and-a-half-generation Vietnamese-American novelist, a peddler of fiction, who has not made the archetypal journey back to the land of her birth" ("Into Thin Air").

Monique Truong's many awards include The Vietnamese American Studies Center at San Francisco award of excellence and the Lannan Foundation writing residency ("Monique Truong" and "Monique Truong Biography"). She also received the 2004 Young Lions Fiction Award, the 2003 Bard Fiction Prize, and the 2003 New York Times Notable Book award for her distinguished novel The Book of Salt ("The Book of Salt: A Novel"). Truong is currently residing in Brooklyn, New York ("Monique Truong").

Works Cited

"Monique Truong -- Interview." 8 November 2004.

"Meet the Writers." 8 November 2004.

"Meet the Writers Monique Truong." 8 November 2004.

"Into Thin Air." Timeasia. 11 Aug. 2003. November 2004 <>.

"Monique Truong." Houghton Mifflin. 8 November 2004.

6. "Monique Truong -- Biography." 8 November 2004.

7. "The Book of Salt: A Novel." Houghton Mifflin. 8 November 2004.

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Last modified 7 January 2005