one book, one san diego: the gangster we are all looking for by lê thị diễm thúy

San Diego readers! Here's an interesting radio conversation with writer lê thị diễm thúy, whose 2003 debut novel The Gangster We Are All Looking For was chosen as the KPBS One Book One San Diego selection for 2011: Novel Traces Vietnamese Refugee Family Adapting To Life In San Diego.

The book, selected by public online voting, is a true-life novel about a Vietnamese refugee in San Diego, told from the perspective of the family's daughter, who is just six years old when they arrive. While it's not memoir, the book draws heavily from le's own childhood experiences as a new immigrant:
One of the goals of childhood is to find out who we are and where we come from. Sometimes it's easy to do, many families are open books, proud of their generations and history. Others are more mysterious with whispers and secrets for a child to unravel.

Novelist le thi diem thúy tried to answer those childhood questions while her family struggled to cope in a new country and a new culture. thúy grew up in a refugee family from Vietnam here in San Diego in the 70s and 80s. Her experiences form the basis of her novel, “The Gangster We Are All Looking For” which is the KPBS One Book One San Diego selection for this year.
More here: Experience And Imagination: Interview With lê thị diễm thúy. The One Book, One San Diego program unites San Diego through book chats, author and scholar lectures, and film screenings that relate to the themes of a single book.

This is one of those novels I put on my 'to read' list years ago, and it somehow fell through the cracks. I may not live in San Diego, but I'm definitely inspired again to pick this book up. At any rate, it certainly has a great title.

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