Winner of an American Book Award

One of Library Journal's Best Books of 2009


This absorbing novel about two sisters is like a prism reflecting essential questions in a variety of subtle, sharp, glistening ways: What makes a family? A home? An American? Without sentimentality, Nguyen takes on these questions bravely and with graceful intelligence.

- Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge, winner of the Pulitzer Prize


Find Short Girls online at:

Barnes & Noble   •   Amazon   •   Powell's   •   IndieBound

Audio: AudioBookStand and Amazon


"A dazzling and intricate portrait of two sisters whose lives, for very different reasons, are in turmoil. I love how deftly Nguyen conjures up her characters, and how much she knows about the world of work and about the complex loyalties that bind families and immigrant communities together. Best of all is her fluent, eloquent, intimate prose that carries the reader effortlessly into both the past and the future." -- Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street andBanishing Verona


"Short Girls is an exceptional debut, funny, insightful and literary, with lots to mull over after you put it down." -- Conan Putnam, Chicago Tribune


"Van and Linny Luong enact the stereotypical roles of studious, straight-A sister and pretty, popular slacker. The daughters of Vietnamese refugees living in Michigan, the women drift apart as Van pursues a law career and marries a picture-perfect Chinese American classmate. Linny drops out of college, ending up in Chicago working for a food-preparation company. When their father announces that he has finally gained U.S. citizenship, they join forces to give him a party and smooth his participation on a reality TV show where he will demonstrate his inventions, the 'Luong Arm,' the 'Luong Eye,' and the 'Luong Wall'--objects that help short people, like his daughters, cope in a world of much taller individuals. As the narrative cuts back and forth between Van and Linny, examining their failed relationships with each other and their male partners, this lovely first novel becomes much more-a depiction of immigrant culture in which everyone is a short person trying to measure up to the United States. Verdict: Fans of Nguyen's acclaimed memoir, Stealing Buddha's Dinner, will want to read her fiction debut. This should also appeal to readers of Asian American fiction. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal(starred review)


"[A] detailed character study of second-generation sisters who find themselves more anchored by their Vietnamese heritage than they had realized. … Nguyen's novel is clever and lively, a fine update to a familiar setup.” -- Publisher’s Weekly


"Divergent Vietnamese-American sisters grapple with their upbringing, their present circumstances and their shortcomings. Debut novelist Nguyen integrates many of the themes found in her immigration memoir (Stealing Buddha's Dinner, 2007), while solidly demonstrating a flair for fictional composition. The book centers on quarrelsome siblings Van and Linny, who find themselves at emotional and cultural crossroads as the first generation of their family to be raised in America. . . . The family's ambitious patriarch is Dinh Luong, a widower and amateur inventor whose most useful invention, a 'Luong Arm' designed to extend the reach of short people, sharpens his daughters' sense of inadequacy. As the sisters help their father prepare for a reality show called 'Tomorrow's Great Inventor,' they find themselves learning significantly more about themselves, their heritage andthe art of self-invention. . . . A compassionate family drama that attacks emotional and generational unrest with an optimistic thesis--life goes on." -- Kirkus Reviews


"More sad than funny, more real than lightweight, Nguyen's story offers its characters not revenge, redemption or even success, but acceptance. Even in the country of tall people, short will have to be good enough." -- Marion Winik, Los Angeles Times


"Tradition, unspoken truths and height are a few of the many things that the Vietnamese sisters struggle with in Short Girls, the beautiful debut novel by Bich Minh Nguyen. . . . [W]ith haunting detail . . . Nguyen describes her characters and the towns they live in expertly, giving the reader an accurate vision of who they are and where the story takes place. It's a story filled with Vietnamese inheritance and yet could be about any family, of any ethnicity. Strapped with the duty of being good daughters to their father, Van and Linny find their way to being true to themselves without completely negating their heritage. It's a lovely story, rich with realization and quiet acceptance.--


"Nguyen's debut novel is a poignant look at immigrants and their children finding their identity as Americans." -- People magazine


“Nguyen made a splash with her memoir, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, and this, her first novel, has been much anticipated—with good reason. . . . Her characters are stubborn, selfish, and often paralyzed with inaction, but also warm, dutiful and loving, and this careful balance makes them incredibly real and sympathetic. But the real star is the prose itself, which is succinct, efficient and peppered with perffeclty chosen details that make each scene come alive.” -- Rebecca Shapiro,BookPage


"Nguyen offers a tender dissection of Asian American family life - the isolation that comes from being separated from relatives and deprived of the comforts of belonging to a larger culture. She wields the theme of shortness with great subtlety and nuance, not only mining it for comedy but also using it as a metaphor for the many ways we feel out of place in the world, which is no mean feat." -- Grace Park, San Francisco Chronicle


"Nguyen enriches her first novel with such incisive personal and cultural observations."  -- Laura Impellizzeri, AP (Associated Press)


"During the several months in which the book's central events occur, the sisters, longtime rivals, grow closer when...Linny confides that she has a married lover and Van an overbearing, distant husband. Their dilemmas provide the framework for larger concerns, among them how to remain true to their family, community and ethnic heritage when American life pulls the opposite way....[T]he sisters learn not only who they are, but where geographically, psychologically and emotionally they belong....Bich Minh Nguyen's lovely, loving tale of Midwestern immigrant life is finally a deeply American book about place and placelessness.  -- Anthony Bukoski, Minneapolis Star Tribune