PERSONAL: Born in Memphis, TN; married; children: two sons. Education: Wesleyan University, graduated; University of North Carolina, M.F.A.
CAREER: Freelance journalist, educator, and novelist. University of North Carolina, Wilmington, journalism and Vietnamese literature teacher. Codirector of the documentary Which Way Is East, Canyon Cinema, 1994.
The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2000.
(Editor, with Nguyen Nguyet Cam) Nguyen Huy Thiep, Crossing the River: Short Fiction, Curbstone Press (Willimantic, CT), 2003.
(Compiler, with Nguyen Nguyet Cam) Two Cakes Fit for a King, University of Hawaii Press (Honolulu, HI), 2003.
If You Lived Here (novel), William Morrow (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor to publications including Mother Jones, San Francisco Chronicle, Far East Economic Review, Sierra, and Philadelphia Inquirer. Translator of Vietnamese short fiction into English.
SIDELIGHTS: On a backpacking trip through Asia, Dana Sachs made a stop in Vietnam, not knowing that the experience would lead to several extended stays and ultimately a life-long fascination with the country and its people. In an interview with Allison Martin, owner of the Adopt Vietnam Web site, Sachs explained what it was about the country that kept drawing her back: “People are so much more interconnected in Vietnam than they are in the States. People watch out for each other, they keep an eye on each other’s children, they even want to know if you remembered to eat lunch or not! Even though it’s invasive, I loved feeling that I was a part of a household, a neighborhood, a city, this great complicated web of lives that make up Vietnamese society.” In addition to writing several books that incorporate her experiences in the country, she has lent her expertise as editor and translator of several works written by Vietnamese authors.
The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam is Sachs’s account of her experiences living in Hanoi, beginning with her first year as a resident as her life becomes enmeshed with that of her host family and she struggles with the typical fish-out-of-water sentiments as a foreigner. Over the course of her various stays in Hanoi, Sachs begins to the see Vietnam as a home and fully immerses herself in the culture. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented about the book: “The real joy in her work is the engaging street-level view of Hanoi that she provides.... Sachs bravely renders Vietnam through fresh eyes.” Kitty Chen Dean described Sachs in a Library Journal review as “an engaging and sensitive writer who tells her story ably.” In a review of the book at Things Asian.com, a contributor wrote: “In a voice that feels less like an autobiography and more like a tête-à-tête, Sachs weaves her tale like a fine silk brocade, with the fabric of Hanoi in the background, overlaid with the intricate patterns of everyday life and the comings and goings of the people around her; the whole of which is delicately embroidered with her detailed observations and keen philosophical asides.”
In 2007 Sachs published her first novel, the story of a woman who adopts a child from Vietnam. If You Lived Here follows Shelley as she travels to pick up her child, accompanied by her Vietnamese friend Mai who had immigrated to the United States to forget a troubled past. A Kirkus Reviews contributor regarded the novel as “very earnest, and it weaves together [the] plots very carefully.” Robin Nesbitt described the novel in a Library Journal review as “an interesting look at international adoption and the emotional toll it takes on people.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Sachs, Dana, The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2000.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2006, review of If You Lived Here, p. 1042.
Library Journal, September 15, 2000, Kitty Chen Dean, review of The House on Dream Street, p. 102; October 1, 2006, Robin Nesbitt, review of If You Lived Here, p. 61.
Publishers Weekly, August 14, 2000, review of The House on Dream Street, p. 336.
Adopt Vietnam, http://www.adoptvietnam.org/ (January 11, 2007), Allison Martin, “Enamored of Vietnam” (author interview).
ThingsAsian, http://www.thingsasian.com/ (March 30, 2002), review of The House on Dream Street.