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The Make Meaning Podcast

Jun 17, 2022

So many writers say they write to figure out what they believe or make sense of a situation. Ly Tran says she writes to overcome self-doubt and to celebrate her voice. More than that, she says her words connect her to others, and the best part of putting a book in the world is the feedback she gets from readers who say that her story touched them in a deep and meaningful way.

In the latest episode of the Make Meaning Podcast, host Lynne Golodner interviews Ly Tran about her memoir, House of Sticks, which took six years to write after landing a contract simply by the strength of her pages as presented to a professor. Ly came to America at the age of 3, a Vietnamese refugee who was a sweatshop worker as a child and spent a decade failing school as her vision deteriorated. Literature was her only refuge, holding books close to her face to commune with characters. With the gift of a pair of contacts at high school graduation, she eventually made it to Columbia University, where instructors saw her gifts and encouraged her to write her incredible story. 

In this episode, Lynne and Ly discuss: 

  • Her parents’ response to her truth-telling: “You do what you need to do.”
  • Finding identity in food and language
  • Embodying multiple conflicting identities
  • The myth of “the American dream”
  • Realizing that she’s not like other kids and learning to find her own way
  • How books can be our salvation
  • Code-switching
  • How to honor family and values while assimilating
  • Her next book, a historical novel about the Tru’ng Sisters
  • The need for strong Asian-American voices

Links and Resources: 

Find Ly Tran:

Coming up next on the Make Meaning Podcast: Lynne interviews Becky Robinson, founder of Weaving Influence and author of Reach: Create the biggest possible audience for your message, book, or cause.