Jade Ngoc Quang Huynh was born in 1957 in the Mekong Delta region of South Vietnam. He attended Saigon University in 1974 until the North Vietnamese Army took control of the south in 1975. After enduring a year of inhuman conditions and torture in a labor camp, he managed to escape and finally reached a refugee camp in Thailand. In 1978, Huynh flew to the United States. Since his arrival, he has worked in a series of factory and cleaning jobs, completed his B.A. at Bennington College, and received an M.F.A. from Brown University.