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Poster for Harvard Book Store Presents Susan Lieu

Harvard Book Store Presents Susan Lieu

Coming on April 2

Run Time: 90 min.

Harvard Book Store Presents:

Susan Lieu


The Manicurist’s Daughter: A Memoir

Harvard Book Store welcomes SUSAN LIEU—award-winning author, playwright, and performer of 140 LBS: How Beauty Killed My Mother and the sequel OVER 140 LBS—for a discussion of her memoir The Manicurist’s Daughter.


Book Included: Tickets include admission for one and one hardcover copy of The Manicurist’s Daughter pre-signed by the author.

Admission Only: Ticket includes admission for one.

About The Manicurist’s Daughter

Susan Lieu has long been searching for answers. About her family’s past, and about her own future. Refugees from the Vietnam War, Susan’s family escaped to California in the 1980s after five failed attempts. Upon arrival, they became experts at the “refugee hustle.” Susan’s mother was their savvy, beautiful, charismatic north star. She pulled them out of poverty and orchestrated every success. Until Susan was eleven. That year, her mother died as a result of negligence during a routine plastic surgery…seeking beauty treatments she didn’t need.

After her mom’s death, Susan was expected to go back to school as if nothing happened. Within her family, there was no shared grief or emotional outpouring. For the next 20 years, Susan navigated a series of cascading questions alone—why did the most perfect person in her life feel the need to change her body? Why would no one tell her about her mother’s life in Vietnam? How could she manage the same cultural pressures her mother faced, and succumbed to, in her own life, within her own body? And how did this surgeon, who preyed on Vietnamese immigrants, go on to continue operating for years after her mother’s death?

The Manicurist’s Daughter is much more than a memoir about grief, trauma, and body image. It is a story of fierce determination, strength in shared culture, and finding your place in the world. Susan Lieu is the daughter of manicurists. She is the daughter of survivors and the inheritor of all they faced to reach a better life. She finds her strength in her family’s story, and she will continue to build on that foundation for future generations.

Praise for The Manicurist’s Daughter

“A stunning, raw, brave memoir that wouldn’t let me go.” ―V (formerly Eve Ensler), author of Reckoning and The Vagina Monologues

“With tenacity, wit, and fierce love, Susan Lieu reconstructs the mother she lost—from memory, through detective work, by spirit conjuring…defying all obstacles and naysayers. A high octane roller coaster to healing.” —Thi Bui, author of The Best We Could Do, an American Book Award winner, a National Book Critics Circle finalist, and an Eisner Award finalist

“The quintessential story of an immigrant’s kid―filled to the brim with heartache and hope.” ―Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese, a National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winner

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

photo of Susan LieuSusan Lieu

Susan Lieu is a Vietnamese-American author, playwright, and performer who tells stories that refuse to be forgotten. A daughter of nail salon workers, she took her autobiographical solo theatre show 140 LBS: How Beauty Killed My Mother on a 10-city national tour with sold out premieres and accolades from L.A. Times, NPR, and American Theatre. Eight months pregnant, she premiered her sequel OVER 140 LBS as the headliner for ACT Theatre’s SoloFest. Within one year she held 60 performances to over 7,000 people. Her award-winning work has been featured at Bumbershoot, Wing Luke Museum, The Moth Mainstage, On The Boards, The World Economic Forum, RISK!, CAATA ConFest, Viet Film Fest, and she has spoken at more than a dozen universities around the country.

She serves as an Artists Up mentor, Artist Trust instructor, “Model Minority Moms” podcaster, and board member for international NGO Asylum Access. As an activist, she worked with Consumer Watchdog to pass a law to raise medical malpractice caps. Susan and her sister co-founded Socola Chocolatier, an artisanal chocolate company based in San Francisco. She is a proud alumnus of Harvard College, Yale School of Management, Coro, Hedgebrook, and Vashon Artist Residency. Susan lives with her husband and son in Seattle where they enjoy mushroom hunting, croissants, and big family gatherings. The Manicurist’s Daughter is her first book. Learn more at and follow her on instagram @susanlieu.

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