Monique Truong

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Monique Truong
Native name Monique T.D. Truong
Born Saigon
Occupation Writer, poet
Language English
Nationality Vietnamese American
Education Yale College
Columbia University School of Law
Notable awards Young Lions Fiction Award Winner 2004, PEN/Robert Bingham Award Winner

Monique T.D. Truong (born 13 May 1968 in Saigon in South Vietnam) is a Vietnamese American writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Truong left Vietnam for the United States in 1975 and graduated from high school[which?] in Houston, Texas. She served in the past as an associate fiction editor for the Asian Pacific American Journal, a literary publication of the Asian American Workshop based in New York City.

Early life[edit]

Monique Truong was born on May 13, 1968, in Saigon, South Vietnam. In 1975, at the age of 6, she and her mother left Vietnam for the United States as refugees of the Vietnam War.[1] Her father, a high level executive for an international oil company, initially stayed behind for work but later left the country as well after the fall of Saigon.[1]

Truong completed her undergraduate studies at Yale University, graduating in 1990 with a B.A. in Literature.[2]


The Book of Salt tells the story of Binh, a Vietnamese cook, who, after spending years in Paris working for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, must decide whether to travel with his employers to the United States, return to Vietnam, or remain in France. The book won the 2004 "Barbara Gittings Book Award in Literature" from the American Library Association.[3] Truong won the 2004 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for The Book of Salt.

Truong had the inspiration for this novel in college after she bought a copy of The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (1954)[4] because she was interested in Toklas' famous hashish brownie recipe. Truong was intrigued to discover that Toklas and Stein had had two "Indo-Chinese" men who cooked for them at two of their French residences.

Taking place in the post World War I years in Paris, Truong uses the novel to explore the themes of sexuality, diaspora, race, and national identity.[5]

One of Truong's co-editors from the anthology Watermark suggested that she apply for a Van Lier fellowship, which allowed her to pay her expenses while taking off two months to write what would become The Book of Salt.

Short fiction and essay publications[edit]

  • Vietnam: Identities in Dialogue
  • Bold Words: A Century of Asian American Writing
  • An Interethnic Companion to Asian American Literature
  • "Kelly"; "Notes to Dear Kelly", in Shawn Wong, ed., Asian American Literature: A Brief Introduction and Anthology (New York, Longman, 1995) pp. 288–293.
  • "Kelly", in Amerasia Journal, 17.2 (1991)
  • Yale University's The Vietnam Forum




  1. ^ a b Monique Truong – An Interview with Author, retrieved May 8, 2010 
  2. ^ Monique Truong: Meet the Writers, retrieved May 8, 2010 
  3. ^ "Stonewall Book Awards: 2004". January 12, 2004. Archived from the original on April 7, 2007. Retrieved August 12, 2007. 
  4. ^ The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook: Alice B. Toklas, M. F. K. Fisher Fisher: Books
  5. ^ *The Book of Salt (Houghton-Mifflin, 2003)

External links[edit]