By Chantha Nguon, with Kim Green
2024 • Algonquin Books
From her idyllic early years in Battambang to hiding as a young girl in Phnom Penh as the country purges ethnic Vietnamese like Nguon and her family, from her escape to Saigon to the deaths of mother and sister there, from the poverty and devastation she experiences in a war-ravaged Vietnam to her decision to flee the country. We follow Chantha on a harrowing river crossing into Thailand—part of the exodus that gave rise to the name “boat people”—and her decades in a refugee camp there, until finally, denied passage to the West, she returns to a forever changed Cambodia. Nguon survives by cooking in a brothel, serving drinks in a nightclub, making and selling street food, becoming a suture-nurse treating refugees abused by Thai authorities, and weaving silk. Through it all, Nguon relies on her mother’s “slow noodles” approach to healing and to cooking, one that prioritizes time and care over expediency. Haunting and evocative, Slow Noodles is a testament to the power of culinary heritage to spark the rebirth of a young woman’s hopes for a beautiful life.
Tags: AAPI & diaspora authors, asia, asian, autobiography, Books, food writing, southeast asian, was-preorder