Pioneer Girl: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Lee Lien -- newly minted PhD, absolutely no job prospects -- sets out to solve a mystery that includes Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Lien family's history in Vietnam and the U.S.


— From Pioneer Girl


“A powerful and wholly original American saga.” —San Francisco Chronicle

Bich Minh Nguyen’s previous books—the acclaimed memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner and the American Book Award–winning novel Short Girls—established her talents as a writer of keen cultural observation. In Pioneer Girl, Nguyen entwines the Asian American experience with the escapist pleasures of literature, in a dazzling mystery about the origins of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic Little House on the Prairie.

Lee Lien has long dodged her Vietnamese family’s rigid expectations by immersing herself in books. But now, jobless with a PhD in literature, she is back at home, working in her family’s restaurant under her mother’s hypercritical gaze—until an heirloom from their past sends Lee on a search for clues that may lead back to Wilder herself, transforming strangers’ lives as well as her own.

About the Author

BICH MINH NGUYEN (who goes by Beth) teaches literature and creative writing in the Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and their two children.

Praise For…

Early Praise for Pioneer Girl:

“Elegant, sharp-eyed, and very funny, Pioneer Girl is ultimately about how one finds kinship—familial, cultural, literary—that transcends the usual lexicon about identity and belonging. Navigating Vietnamese ‘immigrant guilt’ and a stalled academic career, Lee Lien finds escape in trying to solve a literary mystery which leads her deep into her own heart and history. A wonderful read!”
—Cristina García, author of King of Cuba and Dreaming in Cuban 
“I love how the Little House legend takes a wild detour into contemporary life in Pioneer Girl. Bich Minh Nguyen’s wonderfully imagined literary history gets to the truth about mothers, daughters, frontiers, and the meaning of home. I couldn't put this down!” 
—Wendy McClure, author of The Wilder Life

Product Details
ISBN: 9780143126225
ISBN-10: 0143126229
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: January 27th, 2015
Pages: 304
Language: English