Named a Best Memoir of 2023 by Oprah Daily • Selected by Time, NPR, and BookPage as a Best Book of 2023
“This book…is what memoir writing in the hands of a caring, curious wunderkind can be.” —Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
From the award-winning author of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, a powerful memoir of a mother-daughter relationship fractured by war and resettlement.
At the end of the Vietnam War, when Beth Nguyen was eight months old, she and her family fled Saigon for America. Only Beth’s mother stayed—or was left—behind, and they did not meet again until Beth was nineteen. Over the course of her adult life, she and her mother have spent less than twenty-four hours together.
Owner of a Lonely Heart is “a portrait of things left unsaid” (The New York Times), a memoir about parenthood, absence, and the condition of being a refugee: the story of Beth’s relationship with her mother. Framed by a handful of visits over the course of many years—sometimes brief, sometimes interrupted, some alone with her mother and others with the company of her sister—Beth tells an “unforgettable” (People) coming-of-age story that spans her childhood in the Midwest, her first meeting with her mother, and her own experience of parenthood.
Beth Nguyen is the author of the recently published memoir Owner of a Lonely Heart, the memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, and two novels. Her work has appeared in publications including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Best American Essays. She is a professor of creative writing and director of the MFA program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.