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Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai with Asako Serizawa

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai with Asako Serizawa

Tuesday, April 04, 2023 - 7:00PM ET
Event address: 
279 Harvard Street
Coolidge Corner
Brookline, MA 02446-2908

Join the Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith for an in-store event with author Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai to discuss and celebrate the release of Dust ChildShe will be in conversation with writer Asako Serizawa.

From the internationally bestselling author of The Mountains Sing, a suspenseful and moving saga about family secrets, hidden trauma, and the overriding power of forgiveness, set during the war and in present-day Việt Nam. 

In 1969, sisters Trang and Quỳnh, desperate to help their parents pay off debts, leave their rural village and become “bar girls” in Sài Gòn, drinking, flirting (and more) with American GIs in return for money. As the war moves closer to the city, the once-innocent Trang gets swept up in an irresistible romance with a young and charming American helicopter pilot. Decades later, an American veteran, Dan, returns to Việt Nam with his wife, Linda, hoping to find a way to heal from his PTSD and, unbeknownst to her, reckon with secrets from his past. 

At the same time, Phong—the son of a Black American soldier and a Vietnamese woman—embarks on a search to find both his parents and a way out of Việt Nam. Abandoned in front of an orphanage, Phong grew up being called “the dust of life,” “Black American imperialist,” and “child of the enemy,” and he dreams of a better life for himself and his family in the U.S. 

Past and present converge as these characters come together to confront decisions made during a time of war—decisions that force them to look deep within and find common ground across race, generation, culture, and language. Suspenseful, poetic, and perfect for readers of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, Dust Child tells an unforgettable and immersive story of how those who inherited tragedy can redefine their destinies through love, hard-earned wisdom, compassion, courage, and joy.

Born and raised in Việt Nam, Dr. Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is the author of the international bestseller The Mountains Sing, which has been honored with many awards including the 2021 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award, the 2020 BookBrowse Best Debut Award and runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She has published twelve books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in Vietnamese and English. Her writing has been translated into twenty languages. Her new novel Dust Child has been selected as a best book of 2023 by Reader's Digest and Cosmopolitan, and as a best Book of March/Spring 2023 by the Los Angeles TimesLibrary Journal, the Chicago Review of BooksMs. Magazine, BookPage, and Apple Books. It has also been voted by booksellers around the country as an Indie Next Great Read. She is an advocate for rights of disadvantaged groups in Vietnam and has been chosen by Forbes Vietnam as one of the 20 most inspiring Vietnamese women of 2021.

Asako Serizawa was born in Japan and raised in Singapore, Jakarta, and Tokyo. Her debut book of fiction, Inheritors, won the PEN/Open Book Award and The Story Prize Spotlight Award, was a Massachusetts Book Awards Honors Book, and was longlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. A recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mass Cultural Council, her work has been awarded two O. Henry Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MacDowell, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, among others. She currently lives in Boston.