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Thao Thai Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

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The Best of Brevity(2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Thao Thai
Thao Thai is an author based out of Ohio, where she lives with her daughter and husband.

Thao’s work has been published in WIRED, The Sunday Long Read, Real Simple, Lit Hub, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Catapult, Cup of Jo, and other publications.

When she is not busy writing, she likes hanging out with her sweet family, sewing, and cooking. She also has a soft spot for reality TV. Thao also likes playing Sorry, which in her house can get pretty competitive. She enjoys making her own greeting cards for her family and friends.

Thao first learned that language had power from the very first time that she read a book from beginning to end. She is a reader first and foremost, and the impact of words hit her right away. She has never lost her awe at the way that language can transport readers. And she hopes she never does.

Originally, “Banyan Moon” was narrated by Minh solely. Thao liked the idea of the grandma weighing in on her granddaughter and daughter’s choices from the afterlife, almost as meddlesome in death as she was in life. However other voices fought to be heard. She could feel Hu’o’ng’s complex gratitude toward her mom. Ann’s desperate desire to be free of her childhood home.

She wanted the novel to feel like this tapestry of motherhood at different phases, and the only way to do this was to unite the three narrative strands. In order to make each one distinct, Thao considered the different pressures each one faced. For Minh, it was survival in a new country. For Hu’o’ng, it was the impact of her treacherous marriage, and for Ann, it was the weight of grief and betrayal, mingled together.

The seed of “Banyan Moon” was this image of a locked trunk that she used to picture in her mind, from this Bluebeard like folk tale her mom once told her as a child. She comes from this great line of storytellers and they would often spend evenings listening to all these stories of her family’s lives or the stories that would be handed down to them through the generations.

Folklore has always felt to Thao as less of a practice, and more of a space of the imagination that you can return to. The communal and shared aspect of a folk tale, as well as its oral nature, creates this different type of narrative magic which can feel more epic and larger than any other type of storytelling. One day Thao will tell her daughter the exact same folk tales that she herself was told as a child, and she imagines that it will feel a bit like a homecoming.

She was inspired to write the novel because in the years after giving birth to her daughter, she got to thinking a lot about motherhood, particularly the more complex aspects that she rarely heard people discuss. In her experience, relationships are constantly changing, and few are locked in any kind of stasis because humans are so prone to evolution.

We’ll go through the years snapping apart at various times, however also coming together again. This is the relief and pain of motherhood, that you are always going to be somewhat separate from your kids. There can be a ton of darkness and secrets between daughters and moms, however also deep love and hope. And within the alienation and Gothic intrigue of the Banyan House, there was also a sense of claustrophobia which heightened many of these tensions she was interested in. ultimately, this is a story for all the survivors out there. Of violence and war, of heartbreak, and the transformative experience of motherhood.

When it comes to writing, she tries to write in her office. Thao tries to be disciplined about it, however often, she is sneaking a few words in while she carpools her daughter to summer camp, or even in the bath via her Notes app.

Thao typically comes to the page all energized, however by the end of it, she is exhausted by the whole act of poring detail and emotion onto the page. However it is the good sort of tiredness, the sort that feels satisfying and productive.

“Banyan Moon” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2023. Ann Tran is at a crossroads already when she gets the call that Minh, her beloved grandma, has just died. Ann has built a seemingly perfect life for herself. She lives in this beautiful lake house and has this charming professor boyfriend, however it all crumbles away with just a single positive pregnancy test.

Ann, with both her carefully planned future and her relationship now in question, returns home to Florida in order to face Hu’o’ng, her estranged mom. Mother and daughter, under the same roof for the first time in years, have to face the simmering questions of their past as they try to rebuild their relationship without the person that has always held them together.

Running parallel to this is Minh’s own story, while she goes from a lovestruck teen that lives in the shadow of the Vietnam War to this determined young mom immigrating to America to find a better life. And after Ann makes this shocking discovery in the Banyan House’s attic, some long-buried secrets are brought to light since it becomes obvious how choices Minh made in her youth affected the rest of her family and her life.

Spanning continents and decades, from 60s Vietnam to the wild swamplands of the Florida coast, “Banyan Moon” is a deeply moving and stunning story about daughters and moms, the things that we inherit, and the lives that we decide to make out of such an inheritance.

This is a heartbreaking, tender, and gripping read. It’s a haunting page turner that reexamines lineage, motherhood, and what it truly means to be a survivor, in every definition of the word. Thao offers up a novel which explores the traumatic legacy of war, the complexities of cultural assimilation, and the intimacy of family conflict with psychological acuity and fierce grace. This is a welcome debut from such a stunning voice that will forever impact the Vietnamese American canon.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Thao Thai

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