Yasuko Thanh said that throughout her turbulent life writing has been a staple.
It was there when she had to leave home at 15, it was there when she dropped out of school, it was there when she began her life as an underage sex trade worker and it was one of the key things that motivated her to quit the industry, too.
“I realized that the function that most people’s significant others play in their lives has probably been replaced in my life by writing,” Thanh said. “For good or for worse.”
Thanh is an award-winning author from Victoria; her first story collection Floating Like The Dead was nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize; short stories from the collection earned the Journey Prize and the Arthur Ellis Award for best Crime Short Story. Her first novel Mysterious Fragrance of Yellow Mountain published in 2016 won the Roger’s Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.
|Award-winning Victoria author Yasuko Thanh released her third book– this time a memoir on her painful experiences living on the streets and working as a sex trade worker when she was a teenager. (File contributed/ Penguin Random House Canada)|
Now, her third publication Mistakes to Run With is her first non-fiction book that tells her own story in raw and graphic detail.
“My publisher and agent have long been protective of me from the prejudice and stigmatization that could come from my story,” Thanh said. “But, now that I have a couple books published it seemed like a good time to do it.”
In the memoir Thanh details how she and her immigrant parents, her mother from Germany and her father from Vietnam, had a tumultuous relationship that eventually saw her out on the streets. There, she began using drugs as a crutch and kept herself fed by working the streets of downtown Victoria and Vancouver.
Thanh said everything she wrote down in the novel really happened to her, and only covers a small portion of her expereinces.
“Putting it down on paper is easy, it’s living it that’s hard,” she said. “It was nice to have the permission to sit down and do that. It’s not just self-indulgent, and more than a morbid self-reflection.”
The memoir follows Thanh’s journey from the streets to her career as a recognized author, something she hopes will offer people a new perspective towards others.
“The core of the book is to try to encourage people to look beyond stereotypes,” Thanh said “Every reader is going to come at it with their own experiences, and hopefully walk away with something.”
For Thanh, her writing and memoir helped play a part in reconciling with her family.
“I don’t know how much of the book my father read, but he came over the very day that book came out with two copies– one to sign and one for his friend,” she said.
Mistakes To Run With was published on April 2. Thanh makes a promotional appearance at Indigo’s at Mayfair Mall on Wednesday, April 24 at 7 p.m., followed by a book signing.
For more information visit yasukothanh.com.