On the one hand, this is an evening that should have happened a decade ago, when Vietnam-born Portland writer Dao Strom’s marvelous book of novella-length stories, The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys (Counterpoint), should have come out in paperback, in the way such things are ‘supposed’ to happen. For reasons having nothing to do with this book’s many merits, the paperback didn’t happen - until now. Any time is a good time for a good book. And, in happening now, this evening can include two other books Dao Strom has written in the ensuing decade, each different from the other, and anything she has written before.
We Were Meant to Be a Gentle People is a hybrid-form memoir, various texts and images. More recently, there has been You Will Always Be Someone From Somewhere Else, published out of Hanoi by AJAR. Dao Strom is a founding member of She Who Has No Master(s), a collective project of women artists and writers of the Vietnamese diaspora, co-facilitator of a PoC library collective/social engagement project, De-Canon, and the editor of diaCRITICS. She also makes music as The Sea & The Mother.
Of The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys: “Small moments carry enormous weight in these four loosely linked novellas about young Vietnamese women living in present-day California and Texas . . . For Strom, the most ordinary events—eating ice cream, swatting a fly—contain minor epiphanies that can delicately convey her characters’ sense of disconnection and longing.”—Publishers Weekly.
“The book is informed by the Vietnamese immigrations of the nineteen-seventies but is filled with social observation of contemporary middle-class culture and indie sensibility . . . Quietly beautiful, Strom’s stories are hip without being ironic.” —The New Yorker. This is one not to be missed.