Author of Pioneer Girl, Stealing Buddha's Dinner and Short Girls
About Beth Nguyen
Beth Nguyen (pronounced “Ngwin”) was a baby when her family fled Vietnam on April 29, 1975. They eventually settled in Michigan, where Nguyen grew up. These experiences formed the basis of her memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, which received the PEN/Jerard Award and was named a best book of the year by The Chicago Tribune.
Beth Nguyen’s upcoming memoir Owner of a Lonely Heart revisits her past to tell the story of her relationship with her mother. When Nguyen’s family fled from Vietnam, her mother stayed behind and they did not meet again until Nguyen was ninteen. In this memoir about parenthood, absence, and the condition of being a refugee, Nguyen shares a deeply personal story of family, connection, and belonging.
Nguyen has appeared on programs such as PBS NewsHour and NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss the prevalent themes in her book—the refugee experience, immigration, food, and family—and how they relate to so many other areas of life. Stealing Buddha’s Dinner has also been selected for numerous all-college and all-community reads.
Her first novel, Short Girls, was published by Penguin in 2010; it received an American Book Award and was named a Library Journal best book. Pioneer Girl, published by Viking in 2014, about a Vietnamese-American family with mysterious ties to the real-life Laura Ingalls Wilder family. Nguyen’s work has also appeared in the New York Times, Literary Hub, and The Paris Review.
Nguyen has also coedited three anthologies: 30/30: Thirty American Stories from the Last Thirty Years (Penguin Academic), Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: I & Eye (Longman), and The Contemporary American Short Story (Longman). She has taught creative writing at various conferences, including Aspen Summer Words, Key West Literary Seminars, Port Townsend Writers Conference, VONA/Voices, and Kundiman, and is a professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Stealing Buddha’s Dinner
Vietnamese American Experience
Asian American Literature
Childhood and Adolescence
Praise for Beth Nguyen
Praise for Pioneer Girl
I love how the Little House legend takes a wild detour into contemporary life in Pioneer Girl. Bich Minh Nguyen’s wonderfully imagined literary history gets to the truth about mothers, daughters, frontiers, and the meaning of home. I couldn’t put this down!— Wendy McClure, author of The Wilder Life
A powerful and wholly original American saga.— San Francisco Chronicle
Praise for Stealing Buddha’s Dinner
Her typical and not-so-typical childhood experiences give her story a universal flavor.— USA Today
A charming memoir . . . Her prose is engaging, precise, compact.— The New York Times Book Review
Books by Beth Nguyen
Media About Beth Nguyen
- 212 572-2013
- Beth Nguyen travels from Madison, WI