Monique T.D. Truong (born 1968 in Saigon, South Vietnam) is a Vietnamese American writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Truong left Vietnam for the United States in 1975 and graduated from high school in Houston, Texas. She served in the past as an associate fiction editor for the Asian Pacific American Journal, a literary publication of the Asian American Workshop based in New York City
The Book of Salt tells the story of Binh, a Vietnamese cook, who, after spending years in Paris working for Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, must decide whether to travel with his employers to the United States, return to Vietnam, or remain in France. The book won the 2004 "Barbara Gittings Book Award in Literature" from the American Library Association.
Truong had the inspiration for this novel in college after she bought a copy of The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (1954) because she was interested in Toklas' famous hashish brownie recipe. Truong was intrigued to discover that Toklas and Stein had had two "Indo-Chinese" men who cooked for them at two of their French residences.
Taking place in the post WWI years in Paris, Truong uses the novel to explore the themes of sexuality, diaspora, race, and national identity.
One of Truong’s co-editors from the anthology Watermark suggested that she apply for a Van Lier fellowship, which allowed her to pay her expenses while taking off two months to write what would become The Book of Salt.