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How a Vietnamese-Australian became an American literary sensation

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Nam Le
Nam Le, author of "The Boat."
MPR photo/Euan Kerr

"The Boat" is a collection of stories set around the world. 

There's a tale about a 14-year-old hit man in Columbia. Another story follows an American woman who travels to Tehran during the height of the Islamic Revolution. 

Born in Vietnam, Le escaped with his parents when he was just three months old as one of the thousands of "boat people." 

He grew up in Australia. Later he became a lawyer. Then he set all of that aside to move to Iowa to join the Writers Workshop.

The title story of the collection is about a group of boat people. 

Le told Minnesota Public Radio's Euan Kerr it's not his family's story for one major reason -- they wouldn't.