A novella by Nghiem Tran
September 19, 2023 • 4.5 x 7 • 168 Pages • 978-1-56689-683-2
Son is real. Son was saved from a life he cannot remember. Son is a human in a mythical world of ghosts. This is what Father tells him.
Son has lived his entire life inside the mansion. He is a good child. He reads, practices piano, studies, and watches ghosts tend the farmland through a window in the attic. When Father decides it is time for Son to venture outside, Son’s desire to please Father overpowers his fear, and he must contend with questions he never wanted to face. What are the relentlessly grinning ghosts hiding? Has a ghost taken control of Father? What answers or horrors lie in the forest? And who will stop the mysterious encroaching shadows? Nghiem Tran’s debut inverts the haunted house tale, shaping it into a moving exploration of loss, coming of age in a collapsing world, and the battle between isolation and assimilation.
About the Author
Nghiem Tran was born in Vietnam and raised in Kansas. He is a Kundiman fellow, and he has received degrees from Vassar College and Syracuse University. We’re Safe When We’re Alone is his first book.
Praise for We're Safe When We're Alone
NPR, "2023 Best Books (Books We Love)"
"This hypnotic and richly allusive novella can be read as a concentric poem that hints at both hope and inevitable endings." —Thúy Ðinh, NPR
“Sentences function like arrows that land in the reader’s brain or stomach or heart, leaving the reader with piercing insights that reverberate long after the book ends.” —Melissa Reddish, Necessary Fiction
“Haunting, mournful, and thought-provoking. Tran’s debut novella expresses the anxieties and fears that come with love, trust, loss, and the unknown.” —Sammy Loree, Chicago Review of Books
“A spare and haunted tale of loneliness in a surreal world.” —Kirkus
“Tran flips ghost story conventions upside down.” —David Lewis, Barrelhouse
“Nghiem Tran’s first novella is a marvel: a moving, lyrical piece of prose that happens to be an unputdownable page-turner. He has created a magical world—in the mode of Gabriel García Márquez or Maxine Hong Kingston—that’s astonishingly real. Read it and feel yourself transformed, maybe even saved.” —Mary Karr
“The exquisite We're Safe When We're Alone is a haunting and mesmerizing debut. Part parable, part fairy tale, and part nightmare, it all seems distilled out of the deepest longing. Nghiem Tran is a powerful new voice.” —Dana Spiotta