About the author
Tracey Lien was born and raised in southwestern Sydney, Australia. She earned her MFA at the University of Kansas and was previously a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. All That’s Left Unsaid is her first novel.
About the book
‘Just let him go.’ Those are words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation. That night in 1996, Denny – optimistic, guileless, brilliant Denny – is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in Cabramatta, a Sydney suburb facing violent crime, an indifferent police force, and the worst heroin epidemic in Australian history.
Returning home for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by her brother’s case: several people were at Lucky 8 restaurant when Denny died, but each of the bystanders claim to have seen nothing.
As an antidote to grief and guilt, Ky is determined to track down the witnesses herself. With each encounter, she peels away another layer of the place that shaped her and Denny, exposing the trauma and seeds of violence that were planted well before that fateful celebration dinner: by colonialism, by the war in Vietnam, and by the choices they’ve all made to survive.
This book has a rolling momentum that gently ushers the reader into the world of the characters, and then thrusts them headfirst into a series of unfortunate events that soon have the inevitable pathos of a Greek tragedy. Even knowing their fates early on, it was nonetheless a real page-turner, written with carefully controlled cohesion. This is social realist fiction at its best – accessible yet full of depth, with deeply realised characters. Tracey Lien has captured the indomitable spirit of a particular class of Australians without resorting to well-worn clichés of migrant resilience, and the novel packs a real punch to the guts.
“All That’s Left Unsaid skewers the model-minority myth, a myth that holds that migrants can be successful in their new country so long as they apply hard work and the right attitude, with the ‘good’ ones held up as exemplary compared to the ‘bad’ migrants. All That’s Left Unsaid is a profoundly political work of fiction, as well as a really absorbing read. I value Lien’s novel for the way it aims to make sense of a world that is so often bewildering but which young people must nonetheless make their way through.” – May Ngo, Meanjin
“Cabramatta and the refugee children who grew up there in the 1990s are, in Lien’s pages, recognised as part of Australia’s complex cultural history. The result is more powerful – and conveys more – than most studies can.” – Anh Nguyen Austen, The Conversation
“Literary crime with arresting insight into one of Sydney’s largest Vietnamese communities, All That’s Left Unsaid sacrifices none of the suspense the mystery genre ought to deliver.” – Cameron Woodhead and Fiona Capp, The Age/Sydney Morning Herald
Read an interview with Tracey Lien in Spectrum
Hear Tracey Lien discuss All That’s Left Unsaid with Kate Evans on ABC Radio National’s The Bookshelf
Listen to an interview with Tracey on ABC Radio National’s The Book Show