Harlan and Lan Cao in conversation with Isabel Allende
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Lan Cao’s dual first-person memoir, Family In Six Tones — co-authored with her American daughter Harlan Margaret Van Cao — explores their complicated relationship, culture clash and how they have grown both as individuals and as a family.
Lan is a Vietnamese American writer who left Saigon for the U.S. as a refugee in 1975. She is the author of two other novels, Monkey Bridge and The Lotus and the Storm. Both novels tell the stories of Vietnamese refugees in America, set against the Vietnam War and its traumatic aftermath for those who are left with its haunting legacy. In both novels, the war is told from a Vietnamese American perspective.
Lan is also a professor of law and has taught at Brooklyn Law School, Michigan Law School, Duke Law School, William & Mary Law School. She is currently working at Chapman Law School in Orange, CA. She has written numerous articles on public international law, international trade, and rule of law development. Her book Culture in Law and Development: Nurturing Positive Change was published by Oxford University Press in 2015.
Isabel Allende —novelist, feminist, and philanthropist—is one of the most widely-read authors in the world, having sold more than 74 million books. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she won worldwide acclaim in 1982 with the publication of her hugely popular first novel, The House of the Spirits. In addition to her work as a writer, Allende devotes much of her time to human rights causes.
“How much, if at all, do we let go of grief, even as we proclaim the need to leave it in the past?”
– Lan Cao, The Lotus and the Storm
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