does the story begin? Every story has a beginning, but mine
has several. It is like the road you are traveling where
any point can be a starting point, or a chain whose connecting
links form such a complete whole that an event that happens
in the first link is not necessarily the cause of one that
takes place in the last link. Events in a person’s life
do not occur consistently and uniformly, though, if you wish,
you can put them together in their chronological order. Rather,
they resemble fragments of a forgotten story. Yes, an immigrant’s
life consists of fragments joined together by that fragile
string that we call a human soul.
From "Invisible Woman" by Tran Dieu Hang, translated
by Qui-Phiet Tran
Tran Dieu Hang was born in 1952 in Ha Noi. Her mother had
been a magazine editor there, and her father practiced architecture
all over the country. When the treaty at Geneva in 1954 divided
the territory of Viet Nam into north and south, the family
emigrated to Saigon.
Dieu Hang studied through the second year at the School of
Law but when Saigon fell in 1975 she emigrated for second time,
to a new life in the United States. Her family came with her,
although her father had already left the country for political
reasons in 1956, to Cambodia, where he designed temples and
monuments for the royal family.
Dieu Hang worked on an assembly line in California while she
went back to school. She earned a bachelor’s degree in
Management Information Systems at California State University,
Fullerton. Since 1982 she has worked as a programmer analyst
for Chevron-Texaco Petroleum, Inc. She lives with her two
children in Orange County, California.
Dieu Hang believes that she was the first Vietnamese woman
to publish fiction in the United States after the fall of the
Saigon. The story, Trai Thang 4 (April in Camp Pendleton) appeared
in Que Huong magazine in 1979. This was her first appearance
anywhere as an author, although she was editor in chief of
the annual at Trung Vuong, Saigon’s elite high school
for young women.
Since the stories of Tran Dieu Hang have appeared in the most
prestigious Vietnamese-language literary journals of North
America: Van, Van Hoc, Lang Van, The Ky 21, and Hop Luu. She
has published four books of stories: Vu Dieu cua Loai Cong
(The Peacock Dance) in 1984, Mua Dat La (Rain on the Strange
Land) in 1986, Chom Chom Yeu Dau (Chom Chom Darling) in 1989,
and Niem Im Lang cua May (The Silence of Clouds) in 2002.
Neighborhood shoppers and beauty magazines in Vietnamese communities
across the United States, France and Australia have reprinted
these stories. The publishers don’t ask for permission,
but the stories do seem to find a wide audience. Translator
Qui-Phiet Tran read his first Tran Dieu Hang story in one of
these giveaway publications, at a market in Texas.
In recent years Dieu Hang has appeared, in person and in print,
at schools and in English-language university publications.
For example, in 1992 she gave a reading of her short story, “Zenith” at
the University of California, Santa Barbara. Qui-Phiet Tran’s
translation of the story appeared that same year, in the first
issue of Asian America: Journal of Culture and the Arts. Citations
to this and other translations are given here.