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When Huong arrives in New Orleans with her two young sons, she is jobless, homeless, and worried about her husband, Cong, who remains in Vietnam. As she and her boys begin to settle in to life in America, she continues to send letters and tapes back to Cong, hopeful that they will be reunited and her children will grow up with a father.But with time, Huong realizes she will never see her husband again. While she attempts to come to terms with this loss, her sons, Tuan and Binh, grow up in their absent father's shadow, haunted by a man and a country trapped in their memories and imaginations.
As they push forward, the three adapt to life in America in different ways: Huong gets involved with a Vietnamese car salesman who is also new in town; Tuan tries to connect with his heritage by joining a local Vietnamese gang; and Binh, now going by Ben, embraces his adopted homeland and his burgeoning sexuality. Their search for identity--as individuals and as a family--threatens to tear them apart, until disaster strikes the city they now call home and they are suddenly forced to find a new way to come together and honor the ties that bind them.
Eric Nguyen earned an MFA in Creative Writing from McNeese State University in Louisiana. He has been awarded fellowships from Lambda Literary, Voices of Our Nation Arts (VONA), and the Tin House Writers Workshop. He is the editor in chief of diaCRITICS.org. Things We Lost to the Water is his first novel.
Nguyen will be joined in conversation with, Thúy Đinh, an essayist, freelance critic, and literary translator. Their work has appeared in NPR Books, NBCThink, USA Today, Prairie Schooner, Asymptote, Unbroken Journal, Rain Taxi, Pop Culture Nerd, diaCritics, Shelf Awareness, among others. Summer 2020 writer-in-residence at Woodlawn/Pope Leighey House; finalist in The Asia Literary Review’s 2018 Essay Competition; non-fiction scholar at the 2017 Virginia Quarterly Review Writers’ Conference; 2017 and 2013 Jenny McKean Moore Community Workshop Fellow in Poetry and Short Fiction, respectively.