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SouthBound: Monique Truong On Life As A Refugee, The Taste Of Words, And The Best Barbecue Joint In The World

Monique Truong came to America as a 7-year-old girl — a Vietnamese refugee whose family landed in small-town North Carolina.

Photo by Haruka Sakaguchi

She told me in our conversation that the three years she spent in Boiling Springs shaped so much of her life. It’s where she first learned English, where she first faced prejudice and where she started to develop her identity.

Truong has written three novels, including one called “Bitter In the Mouth” that recalls that time through fiction.

I first ran across her in an essay where she described her love for Bridges’, one of the great American barbecue joints, located in Shelby, North Carolina, near where she grew up.

But even that love came by an indirect path. In so many ways in her life, Truong has taken the long way home.

Show notes

Other music in this episode

  • Soft & Furious, "The Secret"
  • Ketsa, "Haunted Past"
Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.