Yasuko Nguyen Thanh
Yasuko Nguyen Thanh, writer (b 1972). The experiences Yasuko Thanh gained during her unorthodox life show in her writing. Dropping out of school at the age of 15, Thanh lived on the streets for a time, and lived in Mexico, Germany and Latin America. Thanh wrote extensively during her travels. Her writing focuses on representing those members of society that are under-represented, or not represented at all in literature; this is no doubt the result of Thanh's exposure to that world. Some of her early work was published in such literary journals as Prairie Fire, Descant, Fireweed, The Fiddlehead, and PRISM international. Though she did not complete high school, Thanh was admitted to the University Of Victoria on the merit of that published work. She completed her BA in 2009, and began her MA later that year.
Though she has published numerous stories, Yasuko Thanh is most known for "Floating Like the Dead," which was originally published in the Vancouver Review. The Globe And Mail also published the story in its entirety. "Floating Like the Dead" gives a fictional account of a group of Chinese-Canadians who were exiled to a leper colony off the coast of British Columbia. Though the account is fictional, the setting is not: "Floating Like the Dead" is set on D'Arcy Island, which served as a leper colony until 1924. Thanh navigates her subject carefully. Though her story is set in history, it is not weighed down with historical facts. Her focus remains on the narrator and the story, keeping the reader ensconced in the experience of the exiles. She steers away from sermonizing, and instead uses her story to give voice to those who lack one.
Yasuko Thanh has been nominated for the Hudson Prize, which recognizes unpublished collections of poems or short stories. She has also been nominated for the Canada Council For The Arts' Future Generations Millennium Prize and the David Adams Richards Prize from the Writers' Federation of New Brunswick. For "Floating Like the Dead," Thanh won the Writers' Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize (2009).