Nguyen, Bich Minh 1974-
Nguyen, Bich Minh 1974-
First name pronounced "bit"; born 1974, in Saigon, Viet Nam; brought to the United States, 1975; daughter of D. Nhu Nguyen (a general contractor) and stepdaughter of Rosa Fraga (a high school principal); married Porter Shreve (a writer), June 1, 2002. Education: University of Michigan, M.F.A., 1998.
Home—Chicago, IL; West Lafayette, IN. Office—Department of English, Purdue University, 500 Oval Dr., Heavilon 406, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2038. E-mail—[email protected]
PEN/Jerard Award, PEN American Center, 2005, for Stealing Buddha's Dinner: A Memoir.
Stealing Buddha's Dinner: A Memoir, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.
Coeditor of anthologies, including 30/30: Thirty American Stories from the Last Thirty Years, Penguin Academic (New York, NY); Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: I & Eye, Longman Press (New York, NY); and The Contemporary American Short Story, Longman Press (New York, NY); contributor to books, including Dream Me Home Safely: Writers on Growing up in America, and Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry and Prose. Contributor to periodicals, including the Chicago Tribune and Gourmet.
Bich Minh Nguyen was born in Saigon, Viet Nam, in 1974, but fled the country with her family the night before the city fell to the North Vietnamese in 1975, when she was just eight months old. Although the family stayed briefly in various refugee camps, they soon settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Bich grew up in a nearly all-white town, struggling to fit in as a true American girl. Her first book, Stealing Buddha's Dinner: A Memoir, addresses her issues growing up in a town that was so very different from her ethnic background, particularly given her lack of memories of her home country. Her cultural cues came primarily from her family, and included the statue of Buddha that her grandmother kept on a shelf in her room, along with the traditional offerings she would make. Her awareness of her heritage also stemmed from things like food, and her name, which was frequently mispronounced and resulted in teasing from the other children when she was in school. Many of the things that she associated with Viet Nam seemed unreal to her, whereas true reality stemmed from all things American, from fast food to pop music. Library Journal reviewer Nicole Mitchell called the book a "quick, fun, but ultimately moving read." Barbara Fisher, writing in the Boston Globe, observed that "this could be a satire on the consumer culture of 20th-century America, but for Bich the brightly packaged plenty of America is bliss."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Nguyen, Bich Minh, Stealing Buddha's Dinner: A Memoir, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.
Booklist, January 1, 2007, Michael Cart, review of Stealing Buddha's Dinner, p. 46.
Detroit Free Press, February 15, 2007, "Born in Vietnam and Raised in Grand Rapids, Author Examines Culture via Food."
Hartford Courant, January 28, 2007, "Shedding the Loneliness of an Outsider: Vietnam Immigrant's Heartwarming Memoir."
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2006, review of Stealing Buddha's Dinner, p. 1164.
Library Journal, March 15, 2007, Nicole Mitchell, review of Stealing Buddha's Dinner, p. 79.
Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2007, Michael Standaert, "A Vietnamese Immigrant: Stranger in a Strange Land," review of Stealing Buddha's Dinner, p. E7.
New York Times Book Review, February 4, 2007, Ben Fong-Torres, "Hungry Heart," review of Stealing Buddha's Dinner.
Publishers Weekly, December 4, 2006, review of Stealing Buddha's Dinner, p. 45.
San Francisco Chronicle, February 4, 2007, Michael Rose, "Food Brings a Taste of Acceptance," review of Stealing Buddha's Dinner.
Star (Indianapolis, IN), March 25, 2007, Abe Aamidor, "Q&A: Bich Minh Nguyen."
Asian American Writer's Workshop Web site,http://www.aaww.org/ (August 29, 2007), Tommy Nguyen, interview with Bich Minh Nguyen.
Bich Minh Nguyen Home Page,http://www.bichminhnguyen.com (August 29, 2007).
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (August 29, 2007), Carol Turner, review of Stealing Buddha's Dinner.
Boston Globe Online,http://www.boston.com/ (February 18, 2007), Barbara Fisher, "Short Takes," review of Stealing Buddha's Dinner.
i-94,http://www.i-94magazine.com/ (August 29, 2007), Irene Devette, "Hungry Memories for Bich Minh Nguyen," review of Stealing Buddha's Dinner.
Journal and Courier Online (Lafayette, IN), http://www.jconline.com/ (August 29, 2007), brief biography of Bich Minh Nguyen.
Key West Literary Seminar,http://keywestliteraryseminar.org/ (August 29, 2007), brief biography of Bich Minh Nguyen.
New York Times Online,http://www.nytimes.com/ (June 2, 2002), "Weddings: Bich Nguyen, Porter Shreve"; (February 4, 2007), Ben Fong-Torres, "Hungry Heart," review of Stealing Buddha's Dinner.
PEN American Center Web site,http://www.pen.org/ (August 29, 2007), PEN/Jerard Award announcements.
Penguin Group Web site,http://us.penguingroup.com/ (August 29, 2007), "A Conversation with Bich Minh Nguyen."
Purdue University Liberal Arts Web site,http://www.cla.purdue.edu/ (August 29, 2007), faculty biography of Bich Minh Nguyen.
Purdue University News Web site,http://news.uns.purdue.edu/ (February 7, 2007), Amy Patterson-Neubert, "Professor's Memoir Recalls Life as a Young Immigrant Girl."
Review of Books Web site,http://www.reviewofbooks.com/ (August 29, 2007), brief biography of Bich Minh Nguyen.
Seattle Times Online,http://www.seattletimes.nwsource.com/ (August 29, 2007), Carole Goldberg, review of Stealing Buddha's Dinner.
USA Today Online,http://www.usatoday.com/ (February 8, 2007), Carol Memmott, "An Asian Child Finds America in ‘Dinner.’"