Winner of an American Book Award Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Library Journal
A novel about two Vietnamese-American sisters, longtime rivals, growing closer as they "grapplewith their upbringing, their present circumstances and their shortcomings" (Kirkus Reviews)
Called "A writer to watch, a tremendous talent" by the Chicago Tribune, Bich Minh Nguyen makes her fiction debut with the deeply moving and entertaining story of two Vietnamese sisters. Aside from their petite stature, Van and Linny Luong couldn't be more different. Diligent, unassuming Van works as an immigration lawyer in the Michigan suburbs where she resides with her handsome, Chinese-American lawyer husband. Beautiful, fashionable Linny lives in Chicago and has drifted into an affair with a married man. When Van's picture-perfect marriage collapses and Linny finds herself grappling to escape her dead-end life, the long-estranged sisters are unable to confide in one another- until their eccentric inventor father calls them back home to the Vietnamese American community they fled long ago.
About the Author
Bich Minh Nguyen is the author of three books: the memoir Stealing Buddha's Dinner and the novels Short Girls and Pioneer Girl. Her awards and honors include an American Book Award, a PEN/Jerard Award from the PEN American Center, a Bread Loaf fellowship, and best book of the year honors from the Chicago Tribune and Library Journal. Nguyen's work has also appeared in numerous anthologies and publications including The New Yorker,The Paris Review, The New York Times, and Literary Hub. Nguyen received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, where she won Hopwood Awards in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She has taught at Purdue University and the University of San Francisco and is currently a professor in the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
"A lively, engaging novel of sisterly angst and the cultural heritage ... an exceptional debut, funny, insightful and literary, with lots to mull over after you put it down." -- Chicago Tribune
This absorbing novel about two sisters is like a prism reflecting essential questions in a variety of subtle, sharp, glistening ways: What makes a family? A home? An American? Without sentimentality, Nguyen takes on these questions bravely and with graceful intelligence. - Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
"More sad than funny, more real than lightweight, Nguyen's story offers its characters not revenge, redemption or even success, but acceptance. Even in the country of tall people, short will have to be good enough." -- Marion Winik, Los Angeles Times
"Nguyen's debut novel is a poignant look at immigrants and their children finding their identity as Americans." -- People magazine
"Nguyen offers a tender dissection of Asian American family life - the isolation that comes from being separated from relatives and deprived of the comforts of belonging to a larger culture. She wields the theme of shortness with great subtlety and nuance, not only mining it for comedy but also using it as a metaphor for the many ways we feel out of place in the world, which is no mean feat." -- Grace Park, San Francisco Chronicle
"During the several months in which the book's central events occur, the sisters, longtime rivals, grow closer when...Linny confides that she has a married lover and Van an overbearing, distant husband. Their dilemmas provide the framework for larger concerns, among them how to remain true to their family, community and ethnic heritage when American life pulls the opposite way....[T]he sisters learn not only who they are, but where geographically, psychologically and emotionally they belong....Bich Minh Nguyen's lovely, loving tale of Midwestern immigrant life is finally a deeply American book about place and placelessness. " -- Minneapolis Star Tribune
"[A] detailed character study of second-generation sisters who find themselves more anchored by their Vietnamese heritage than they had realized. … Nguyen's novel is clever and lively, a fine update to a familiar setup.” -- Publisher’s Weekly
"...this lovely first novel becomes much more-a depiction of immigrant culture in which everyone is a short person trying to measure up to the United States.." -- Library Journal(starred review)