Bard News & Events

Press Release


Mark Primoff

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Writer Monique Truong has been selected to receive the annual Bard Fiction Prize for 2003. 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 earlier this year by Houghton Mifflin, will be 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.

The creation of the Bard Fiction Prize, presented each October to a promising young fiction writer, can be viewed as a continuation of Bard’s long-standing position as a center for creative, groundbreaking literary work by both faculty and students. From Saul Bellow, William Gaddis, Mary McCarthy, and Ralph Ellison to John Ashbery, Philip Roth, William Weaver, and Chinua Achebe, Bard literature faculty, past and present, represent some of the most important American writers of our time. The prize is intended to encourage and support young writers of fiction to pursue their creative goals and to provide an opportunity to work in a fertile and intellectual environment. Last year’s Bard Fiction Prize was awarded to writer Emily Barton, author of the novel The Testament of Yves Gundron (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000).


The Bard Fiction Prize is awarded annually to a promising, emerging writer who is an American citizen aged 39 years or younger at the time of application. In addition to the monetary award, the winner receives an appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College for one semester without the expectation that he or she teach traditional courses. The recipient will give at least one public lecture and will meet informally with students. To apply, candidates should write a cover letter explaining the project they plan to work on while at Bard and submit a C.V., along with three copies of the published book they feel best represents their work. No manuscripts will be accepted. Applications for the 2004 prize must be received by July 15, 2004. For further information about the Bard Fiction Prize, call 845-758-7087, send an e-mail to, or visit Applicants may also request information by writing to the Bard Fiction Prize, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000.

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[Editors – Photos available upon request].



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This event was last updated on 08-06-2004