17 November 2011

Thanhha Lai

Since Lonely Comma is no more, I thought I'd continue the Asian American author spotlights here. I had Thanhha Lai's Inside Out & Back Again all queued up awhile ago because her cover was just so amazing. I mean, seriously, it's fantastic. Just look at it. It jumped out to me at the bookstore and I loved the title too.

Well, the content inside is clearly just as great because Thanhha just won the National Book Award for her debut. I've never read a novel in verse before but I think I'm going to start with hers. Here's the synopsis:

"For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by—and the beauty of her very own papaya tree. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape—and the strength of her very own family."

Amidst all this hoopla about authors needing an online presence, I can't find much about Thanhha to share here with you. (Except that she was born in Vietnam and didn't learn English until after she got here at ten years old!) No author website, few interviews, no social networks, no nothing. It just goes to show, if you got it, you got it.