Writer Monique Truong has been selected to receive the annual Bard Fiction Prize for 2004. The prize, established in 2001 by Bard College to encourage and support promising young fiction writers, consists of a $30,000 cash award and appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College for one semester. Truong, whose first novel The Book of Salt was published in 2003 by Houghton Mifflin, was writer-in-residence at Bard College for the spring 2004 semester.
Bard Fiction Prize judges Mary Caponegro, Robert Kelly, and Bradford Morrow recall a phrase from The Book of Salt in citing Truong as this year’s prize recipient: “ ‘Me, I am no good at poetry,’ says Binh, as he savors the secret of salt flowers ‘like a kiss in the mouth.’” This taste, which declares itself and then deepens and recedes, is the reader’s sensation in enjoying every page of The Book of Salt, according to the judges. “Unlike the character Binh, Monique Truong is at every sentence a poet, borrowing the lives of America’s most original and outrageous expatriate and her partner [Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas], and inserting another foreigner into their employ: an intimate outsider who reveals, through beautiful, subtle narrative sequencing, what it is to be other.”
Monique Truong was born in Saigon in 1968 and came to the United States at age 6. She graduated from Yale University and the Columbia University School of Law, going on to specialize in intellectual property law. The Book of Salt, was published in 2003 by Houghton Mifflin in the U.S. and by Chatto & Windus in the U.K., where it has been nominated for the Guardian First Book Award.
Truong co-edited the anthology Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry & Prose, published in 1998 by the Asian American Writers' Workshop. Her writing has appeared in the anthologies Bold Words: A Century of Asian American Writing (Rutgers, 2001), Of Vietnam: Identities in Dialogue (Palgrave, 2001), and An Interethnic Companion to Asian American Literature (Cambridge, 1997), among others. She was named the John Gardner Fellow in Fiction at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in 2003 and was awarded a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency in 2001. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.