Souvankham Thammavongsa was born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand in 1978 and was raised and educated in Toronto where she now lives. She is an award-winning author of four poetry books. Her stories have won an O. Henry Prize, been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and have appeared in Granta, Harper's and the Paris Review among other publications.
In her stunning debut, Souvankham Thammavongsa captures the day-to-day lives of immigrants and refugees in a nameless city, illuminating hopes, disappointments, love affairs, and above all, the pursuit of a place to belong.
An ex-boxer turned nail salon worker falls for a pair of immaculate hands; a mother and daughter harvest earthworms in the middle of the night; a country music-obsessed housewife abandons her family for fantasy; and a young girl's love for her father transcends language.
Uncannily and intimately observed, written with prose of exceptional precision, the stories in How to Pronounce Knife speak of modern location and dislocation, revealing lives lived in the embrace of isolation and severed history – but not without joy, humour, resilience, and constant wonder at the workings of the world.