Monique Truong was born in Saigon in 1968 and moved to the United States at age six. She graduated from Yale University and the Columbia University School of Law, going on to specialize in intellectual property. Truong coedited the anthology Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry and Prose, and her essay "Welcome to America" was featured on National Public Radio. Granting her an award of excellence, the Vietnamese American Studies Center at San Francisco State University called her "a pioneer in the field, as an academic, an advocate, and an artist." She was awarded a prestigious Lannan Foundation writing residency in 2001.
This biography was last updated on 01/18/2006.
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An Interview with Monique Truong
The main character of The Book of Salt is a cook. What's your
relationship to the preparation of food?
I cook for pleasure. I cook to experience something new. I cook, like the characters in my novel, to remind me of where I have been. I always cook or rather I always "taste" the food first in my mind. I approach a recipe like a story. I imagine it, sometimes I have a dream about it, then I go about crafting it.
Tell us about the novel's structure.
The Book of Salt opens in Paris in October of 1934. Bình, the cook, has accompanied his employers Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas to the train station. He seems to be faced with a decision. Will he go to the United States with his Mesdames? Will he return to his family in Vietnam, or, will he continue his life in France or will he travel to some other place of his choosing? Before Bình's "choice" is revealed, the reader is brought back in time and made privy to the stories of the Vietnamese cook and of his American employers. What led each of them to live far from the land of their birth? What, if anything, could bring them back home again? The answers to these questions are found in Bình's ...
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