Winner of the New England Book Award for Nonfiction
In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America along with his family. By sheer chance they land in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a small town where the Trans struggle to assimilate into their new life. In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books such as The Metamorphosis, The Scarlet Letter, The Iliad, and more, Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, and teenage rebellion, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations set by his immigrant parents.
Appealing to fans of coming-of-age memoirs such as Fresh Off the Boat, Running with Scissors, or tales of assimilation like Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Displaced and The Refugees, Sigh, Gone explores one man’s bewildering experiences of abuse, racism, and tragedy and reveals redemption and connection in books and punk rock. Against the hairspray-and-synthesizer backdrop of the ‘80s, he finds solace and kinship in the wisdom of classic literature, and in the subculture of punk rock, he finds affirmation and echoes of his disaffection. In his journey for self-discovery Tran ultimately finds refuge and inspiration in the art that shapes—and ultimately saves—him.
“The United States was already a better country because Phuc Tran refused to change his name. Then he went even further in changing this country by giving us this bold, funny, and profane memoir: a portrait of a young punk refugee and of heartland America itself, each of them as defiant and compelling as the other.”—Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of Pulitzer-Prize winning The Sympathizer and The Refugees
"I started reading this book and couldn’t stop. Phuc Tran has written the Great American Nerd-Punk Boyhood Memoir, a story that’s rollicking and laugh-out-loud funny while also offering a piercingly profound look at race, the challenges of assimilation, and the inherently defiant act of growing up. Earnest, observant, and diamond-sharp, this is a new voice of unmistakable talent. I’ll follow this writer anywhere."—Sara Corbett, coauthor of New York Times best-selling A House in the Sky
"In Sigh, Gone, Phuc Tran offers a searing, trenchant, and hilarious chronicle of adolescence. His memoir seethes with all the shame and rage, loneliness and longing borne from cultural dislocation; thrums with all the fears and half-truths, anti-triumphs, and confused desires of that vicious and necessary American journey we call 'assimilation'. With this book, Tran not only puts himself on the literary map: he rips the map to pieces and tapes it back together as he—forever the bookish young punk—sees fit. The result: a refugee story of the most modern kind, told entirely on the author's own terms."—Jaed Coffin, author of Roughhouse Friday
"Funny, poignant, and unsparing, Tran’s sharp, sensitive, punk-inflected memoir presents one immigrant’s quest for self-acceptance through the lens of American and European literary classics. A highly witty and topical read—an impressive debut."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Affecting, deeply-felt . . . a compelling story of an outsider discovering himself and a world where he fit in."—Booklist (starred review)
"Filled with euphoric flights of discovery, this complex and rewarding story of a book-enriched life vividly illustrates how literature can serve as a window to a new life."—Publishers Weekly
Reviews from Goodreads
1978, CARLISLE, PENNSYLVANIA
“Ba, what’s my name?”
The Bee Gees’s “Stayin’ Alive,” with Barry Gibb’s siren falsetto, cut a suave silhouette from the radio’s single speaker, the accidental...