Tin House to host author Nam Le at The Little Church

Tin House Books and Portland State will host writer Nam Le at the Little Church on April 16 at 6:30 p.m. as a part of their writer-in-residence program.

Le is a Vietnam-born Australian whose first book, The Boat, won numerous awards including the PEN/Malamud Award, Pushcart Prize, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize. It was voted the number-one fiction book by the Oregonian in 2008.

Tin House will be hosting the visiting author in Portland, where he can relax, work and hopefully find inspiration.
“The aim of our ongoing partnership with [Portland State] is to bring national caliber writers to Portland for in-depth teaching opportunities in their MFA program, as well as providing the writers an opportunity to generate new work in a creatively stimulating environment,” said Lance Cleland, director of the Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop and an assistant editor of Tin House magazine.

The event will include a reading selected by the author. It is free and open to the public.

Le will stay in Portland for three months as a part of the program. As a part of the writer-in-residence program, Le will also be teaching a graduate workshop for PSU’s MFA program.

“Not only do we want to bring in authors whose work will excite and challenge the students at PSU,” Cleland said, “we also aim to bring in people who will be excellent literary citizens that will engage with the community.”

The Boat is a collection of short stories that take place all over the world. Le’s stories often explore ethnicity and all its subjectivity.

One story tells of his Vietnamese father and the horrors he saw during the American War.

Another follows a 14-year-old Columbian boy who takes the life of a sicario, an assassin.

Le obviously had fun with the creative inspiration and plot of some of these short stories, but the level of research and how authentic they feel may make some wonder if he actually lived these lives.

Much like Nam Le’s current life, the stories in The Boat take place all over the world. The settings range from a small Australian fishing town to New York City. One takes place in Tehran and another in Hiroshima.