Book Notification

Tracey Lien Books In Order

Book links take you to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases.

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

All That's Left Unsaid (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Tracey Lien
Tracey Lien was born and grew up in southwestern Sydney, Australia. She received her MFA at the University of Kansas and was previously a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

When she was a child, she wasn’t all that much of a reader, which she is embarrassed to even admit. Instead she watched a ton of television, shows like “Huey’s Cooking Adventures”, “The Ricki Lake Show”, “The Bold and the Beautiful”, “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, and “Judge Judy”. There was even a brief phase of Jerry Springer. Tracey attributes this to growing up in a house where there weren’t too many books, since her parents are fluent in Chinese and Vietnamese, just not English, although she does know a lot of children of refugees that were voracious readers.

So she would chalk all of this up to the fact that these daytime TV shows scratched her storytelling itch for her. They were scandalous, dramatic, and easily accessible, and while she was a kid she didn’t think to look anyplace else for a story fix. Tracey wishes she had, because she would love to be able to say that her youth was defined by “The Baby-Sitters Club” instead of Brook and Ridge’s on-again-off-again relationship on “The Bold and the Beautiful”.

Eventually she found her way to books, and has been playing catch up ever since. And it’s been an enriching experience. She feels that people that people that don’t like reading or it’s just not their thing probably just have yet to find their book yet. Which is why Tracey believes that kids should be exposed to all sorts of books and encouraged to read widely and critically.

With “All That’s Left Unsaid”, she didn’t set out to write a literary thriller or a murder mystery. However while she was conducting research about Cabramatta, reading news clippings and ethnographic studies from the 1990s, she found these reports that described crimes committed in which the supposed witnesses made claims they saw nothing.

In this one instance, there was a knife fight that involved a gang that broke out at a community fashion show. Some two hundred people were in attendance, however when the cops showed to interview witnesses, they each claimed they never saw a thing because they were in the bathroom during the fight. The venue just had two restroom stalls. These kernels helped inspire the fictional events she spun.

The book is ultimately about challenging the myth of the model minority. While she grew up in Australia, she was told that she was as Aussie as they come, that she’d get a fair go, that she belonged, and that Australia truly values multiculturalism. However at some point, she discovered this not to be the case, it didn’t apply to her or to the people that looked like her. She realized that her citizenship was conditional. On her gratitude, her impeccable behavior, and if she did anything to step out of line, she risked being perceived as a nuisance, or, even worse, a threat.

Even though she wrote this as a propulsive mystery, with every chapter bringing the reader closer to learning who and why Denny was killed, she hopes readers also come to understand how it feels for her characters to have conditional Australian citizenship.

Tracey wanted to portray the spectrum of dehumanization that many Asian Australians (and by extension, Asians in Britain and Asian Americans, etc.) experience because that’s ultimately what it is. When you aren’t taken seriously, when you are told to take a joke when you are the joke, when you experience the need to walk a tight rope just to be accepted, and when you get confused for other people of the same race.

At best, it gets exhausting, and at worst, dangerous. In the former, there’re characters in the novel that suffer from the daily paper cuts of discrimination. In the latter, a 17 year old boy is murdered at this busy Cabramatta restaurant, and nobody besides his family seems to care about it.

Cabramatta is her home, so she wrote about it with all of the complicated feelings people have about the place they came from. But she thinks the predominant feeling she now has when she reflects on Cabramatta is of appreciation and love.

“All That’s Left Unsaid” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2022. An unflinching and deeply moving debut novel that follows one young Vietnamese-Australian woman that returns home back to her family in the wake of her brother’s shocking murder, determined to learn what happened. It’s a dramatic exploration of the intricate obligations and bonds of family, community, and friendship.

Just let him go. These are words that Ky Tran is always regret. The words that she spoke when her parents called and asked if they should allow her little brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation with his friends. That night, Denny (guileless, optimistic, and brilliant Denny) gets savagely murdered inside this busy restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, this refugee enclave that faces violent crime, the worst heroin epidemic in Australian history, and an indifferent police force.

Ky, returning back home to Cabramatta for his funeral, learns that the police are absolutely stumped by his case: a dozen people were at Lucky 8 restaurant when he died, however each of the bystanders claim they didn’t see anything.

Ky desperately hopes that understanding what happened to her brother may ease her suffocating guilt, and she sets her grief aside and determines to track down each of the witnesses herself. With every encounter, she peels another layer back of the place which shaped her and Denny, exposing the seeds of violence which were planted well before this fateful celebration dinner: by the Vietnam war, by colonialism, and by the decisions that they have all made in order to survive.

Alternating between the perspectives of the witnesses and Ky’s voice, this extraordinary debut novel is both heart rending and heart pounding while it probes the intricate bonds of community, friendship, and family through this unforgettable cast of characters, all of whom are connected by a most devastating crime. Combining gripping suspense and evocative family drama, “All That’s Left Unsaid” is a moving and profound page turner.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Tracey Lien

Leave a Reply