Owner Of A Lonely Heart
From the award-winning author of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, a powerful memoir of a mother-daughter relationship fragmented by war and resettlement.
At the end of the Vietnam War, when Beth Nguyen was eight months old, she and her father, sister, grandmother, and uncles fled Saigon for America. Beth’s mother stayed—or was left—behind, and they did not meet again until Beth was nineteen. Over the course of her adult life, she and her mother have spent less than twenty-four hours together.
Owner of a Lonely Heart is a memoir about parenthood, absence, and the condition of being a refugee: the story of Beth’s relationship with her mother. Framed by a handful of visits over the course of many years—sometimes brief, sometimes interrupted, sometimes with her mother alone and sometimes with her sister—Beth tells a coming-of-age story that spans her own Midwestern childhood, her first meeting with her mother, and becoming a parent herself. Vivid and illuminating, Owner of a Lonely Heart is a deeply personal story of family, connection, and belonging: as a daughter, a mother, and as a Vietnamese refugee in America.
Beth Nguyen, who has also written under the name Bich Minh Nguyen, is the author of three previous books: the memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner and the novels Short Girls and Pioneer Girl. Her awards and honors include an American Book Award and a PEN/Jerard Award from the PEN American Center. Nguyen’s work has also appeared in numerous anthologies and publications including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The New York Times, and Best American Essays. Nguyen teaches creative writing at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.