Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thanhha Lai

Country of origin: Vietnam
For Thanhha Lai, a National Book Award was never part of the plan. At age ten, when she emigrated with her family from Vietnam to Alabama, she had a much more modest goal: mastering English. Decades later, as an adjunct writing professor at Parsons The New School for Design, she has won the nation’s most prestigious writing prize. Her novel, Inside Out and Back Again, tells the story of Ha, a young girl who leaves wartime Saigon for the United States and struggles to reconcile two very different worlds. Lai spent 15 years trying to write the story as an adult novel. “The character is some version of me, so I had that down. I just couldn’t find the right voice,” she said. “It needed to reflect the Vietnamese inside a ten-year-old’s mind. I think of Vietnamese as poetic, so I worked to cut out every unneeded word.”
To read the rest of the article, go here.

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