What: Watermark Books & Café invites you to attend a virtual event with debut author Ly Tran! Ly will be joining us for a virtual discussion of her debut memoir, House of Sticks—A gorgeously written coming-of-age memoir that follows one young girl's journey from war-torn Vietnam to Queens, and her struggle to find her own voice while remaining loyal to her family values. Ly will be joined in conversation with Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, author of The Mountains Sing, a novelistic rendition of one of the most difficult times in Vietnamese history. Signed copies of House of Sticks are currently available while stock lasts. We will also be receiving a limited amount of signed bookplates from Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai!
When: Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. (CT)
Where: This is a virtual event and will be hosted online using Zoom Pro Webinar & Facebook Live.
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About the Book
Ly Tran is just a toddler in 1993 when she and her family immigrate from a small town along the Mekong river in Vietnam to a two-bedroom railroad apartment in Queens. Ly’s father, a former lieutenant in the South Vietnamese army, spent nearly a decade as a POW, and their resettlement is made possible through a humanitarian program run by the US government. Soon after they arrive, Ly joins her parents and three older brothers sewing ties and cummerbunds piece-meal on their living room floor to make ends meet.
As they navigate this new landscape, Ly finds herself torn between two worlds. She knows she must honor her parents’ Buddhist faith and contribute to the family livelihood, working long hours at home and eventually as a manicurist alongside her mother at a nail salon in Brownsville, Brooklyn, that her parents take over. But at school, Ly feels the mounting pressure to blend in.
A growing inability to see the blackboard presents new challenges, especially when her father forbids her from getting glasses, calling her diagnosis of poor vision a government conspiracy. His frightening temper and paranoia leave an indelible mark on Ly’s sense of self. Who is she outside of everything her family expects of her?
Told in a spare, evocative voice that, with flashes of humor, weaves together her family’s immigration experience with her own fraught and courageous coming of age, House of Sticks is a timely and powerful portrait of one girl’s struggle to reckon with her heritage and forge her own path.
About Ly Tran
Ly Tran graduated from Columbia University in 2014 with a degree in Creative Writing and Linguistics. She has received fellowships from MacDowell, Art Omi, and Yaddo. House of Sticks is her first book.
About Que Mai Phan Nguyen
Dr Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is an award-winning writer in both Vietnamese and English. Her eight books of poetry, short fiction and non-fiction in Vietnamese have received the 2010 Poetry of the Year Award from the Hanoi Writers Association, the Capital’s Literature & Arts Award, and First Prize in the Poetry Competition celebrating 1,000 Years of Hanoi. Her debut novel and first book in English, THE MOUNTAINS SING, is an International Bestseller, a New York Times Editors' Choice Selection, Winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Best Debut Award, and Winner of the 2020 Lannan Literary Award Fellowship for "a work of exceptional quality" and for "contribution to peace and reconciliation". Quế Mai has just been named by Forbes Vietnam as one of 20 inspiring women of 2021.