Headlands Center for the Arts

Aimee Phan

california | writing
Affiliate Program 2016—2017

Artist Statement

Growing up, I did not read many stories about Vietnamese or even Asian characters. Literature contributes so much to how people see themselves in the world. So I was inspired by the opportunity to create characters and stories that shared my experience as the child of Vietnamese refugees. My first book, We Should Never Meet, was inspired by my mother’s career as a social worker after the war, helping Vietnamese orphans settle into foster homes in Orange County, California. The story collection explores the historical ramifications of the Vietnam War, and examines contemporary issues of dislocation, assimilation, race relations, and biracial identities. My second book, The Reeducation of Cherry Truong, explores two warring families amidst the burgeoning Vietnamese communities in France and America. It meditates on the painful choices family members make during times of war, and how those decisions have enduring consequences for future generations.

While At Headlands

While at Headlands, I will continue work on several writing projects, but primarily my third work of fiction, Puppet Love, a trilogy of novellas inspired by the Trung Sisters mythology of Vietnam. The Trung sisters are considered the national mothers and heroines of Vietnam, warriors who defended their land from Chinese invaders to establish the country’s national independence. These three novellas unite different research aspects about Vietnamese history and diasporic culture that have interested me over the years. The Trung Sisters mythology hinges on the women’s fateful encounter with a cliff and water, a habitat very similar to the Marin Headlands. In the mythology, the Trung Sisters, after losing a key battle with Chinese invaders, committed suicide by jumping and drowning in the Hat River. Since many of the book’s scenes will take place in this landscape, I believe the Headlands location will be inspirational and useful to the project.

Selected Works

The Disciplines of Memory, 2012. The Rumpus.

Housed, 2012. Guernica.

A Lost Father, and a Daughter Who’s Not Ready to Let Him Go, 2014. The New York Times.




Personal Website

http://www.aimeephan.com