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The author and poet Souvankham Thammavongsa was born in a refugee camp in Thailand to Laotian parents, and the family soon moved to Toronto to start life afresh. These experiences inform her debut story collection, which traces the complicated struggles of 14 Laotian immigrants and those around them. One person picks worms at a hog farm; another learns English from daytime soap operas. The stories are often bleak and filled with exploitation and crushed dreamsbut they also sparkle with illicit romances and quick surges of joy.

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