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Nam Le

The Boat

Alfred A. Knopf

2009 Fiction

The Boat
From a Colombian slum to the streets of Tehran, seven characters in seven stories struggle with very particular Swords of Damocles in Pushcart Prize winner Le’s accomplished debut. In Halflead Bay, an Australian mother begins an inevitable submission to multiple sclerosis as her teenage son prepares for the biggest soccer game of his life. The narrator of “Meeting Elise,” a successful but ailing artist in Manhattan, mourns his dead lover as he anticipates meeting his daughter for the first time since she was an infant.

The opening story, “Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice,” features a Vietnamese character named Nam who is struggling to complete his Iowa Writer’s Workshop master’s as his father comes for a tense visit, the first since an earlier estrangement shattered the family. The story’s ironies—You could totally exploit the Vietnamese thing, says a fellow student to Nam—are masterfully controlled by Le, and reverberate through the rest of this peripatetic collection. Taken together, the stories cover a vast geographic territory (Le was born in Vietnam and immigrated to Australia) and are filled with exquisitely painful and raw moments of revelation, captured in an economical style as deft as it is sure.

Nam Le was born in Vietnam and raised in Australia. After working in the law, he came to America to attend the Iowa Writers’ Workshop as a Truman Capote Fellow. He has also received fellowships from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and Phillips Exeter Academy.

His fiction has won the Pushcart Prize and appeared in venues including Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007, Zeotrope: All-Story, A Public Space, and One Story. He is currently the fiction editor of the Harvard Review. He divides his time between Australia and the United States.

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Blog Posts about Nam Le

Public Art Inspired By Anisfield-Wolf Canon Makes A Splash Across Cleveland

Riders heading to downtown Cleveland on the RTA’s Red Line may have noticed quite a few more pops of color adorning the city landscape over the past two weeks. The colors have a story, and each story comes from a work or writer in the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award canon.Inter|Urban, the collaboration among the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Foundation, North East Ohio Area Coordinating Agency, RTA and LAND studio, has filled the 19-mile stretch from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and into downtown Cleveland with bright, vibrant... Read More →

VIDEO: Nam Le's Thoughts On Book Critics, Favorite Authors And Essentials Of Novel Writing

What annoys you most about book critics? If you could have a drink with any author, who would it be? Name a passage in one of your favorite books that you would rewrite if given the chance. These questions and more were lobbied to 2009 Anisfield-Wolf winner Nam Le as part of Tehelka's "A Byte Of..." video interview series. Check out Nam Le's responses above in the quick video. Read More →

6 Quotes From Your Favorite Authors

Ernest J. Gaines ‎Because it is more appealing to hear from the authors themselves, we've rounded up some of the best quotes we've heard this year (even if they're a bit older) from some of our distinguished Anisfield-Wolf Award winners. Enjoy!  "I want you to show them the difference between what they think you are and what you can be." — Ernest J. Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying ‎"At some point in life the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint or even remember it. It is enough." — Toni Morrison ‎"Art, after... Read More →

The Words Of Winners: Nam Le

Nam Le On the power of fiction: ‎"I do believe that you can never know yourself let alone the person next to you let alone the person halfway across the world. Yet at the same time I believe there is nothing like fiction to fully thrust you into someone else s consciousness." — 2009 Anisfield-Wolf Award winner Nam Le (From Le's Facebook page) Read More →
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