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Author Profile: Thanhha Lai

Each month, we research our authors so that you can learn more about their background and how their stories came to life.



Where she comes from & where she is now: Lai was born in Saigon, Vietnam and immigrated to Montgomery, Alabama after the war.  She currently lives in Croton-on-Hudson, NY, just outside of New York City.

Where she studied: Lai graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Texas, Austin and worked as a journalist for two years for The Register in Orange County, California, where she covered Little Saigon (the local Vietnamese community).  She has a Master of Fine Arts from New York University.

You might know her from: Inside Out & Back Again was her first novel, published in 2011, and won the National Book Award that same year in Young People’s Literature.  Since then, she has published a second novel: Listen, Slowly .

When’s she’s not writing: Thanhha Lai is also a writing professor at Parsons The New School for Design . She’s also a jogger, preferring to jog without music

Lai on writing: “I tell everyone, do not go into writing unless you can handle sitting still for hours and hours and hours.  It’s shockingly boring.  Like anything else, what you see is merely the end result of hours of practice, be it shooting hoops from midcourt or playing Chopin.” -Lai

There’s so much more to know: Lai gave a fascinating interview with the School Library Journal in 2012.   Read the full text here.