Press Releases

CONTACT: Michelle La


SANTA BARBARA, CA, March 17, 2015 – In the year of the 40th Anniversary of the fall of Saigon, American-born author Michelle Robin La has released Catching Shrimp with Bare Hands: A Boy from the Mekong Delta, the true story of her husband’s childhood growing up in the midst of the war. Starting just prior to the 1968 Tet Offensive, this memoir shows the war, communist takeover, and family’s escape from Vietnam through the eyes of Luong La as he ages from four to sixteen.

The book offers the unique perspective of life on the islands of the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam. We follow Luong as he meets Americans for the first time, faces threats from the Viet Cong including one who stays with him when he’s alone in the countryside, and watches his country’s unconditional surrender. “I’ve been fascinated by the stories my husband and his family tell ever since I met them,” Ms. La said.

On April 30, 1975, when Saigon fell, Luong’s family tried, but was unable to leave. His family spent four years under communism where propaganda that “kneaded their skulls,” neighbors spying on each other, and the threat of starvation drove Luong to escalating acts of defiance. He might have been put in prison if his mother hadn’t had him quit school to help build an escape boat.

“We hear about Vietnamese boat people, but this memoir gives an account of the conditions that pushed them to risk their lives. It also shows their resourcefulness in building boats, selling passages, and keeping escape plans secret,” the author said.

Michelle Robin La met her husband when they were students at the University of Washington, Seattle. They live in Santa Barbara with their three children.

Catching Shrimp with Bare Hands is available at Amazon in print and Kindle and on iBooks.