Susan Lieu at The Brattle Theatre


The Manicurist's Daughter: A Memoir

in conversation with GRACE TALUSAN


April 2, 2024
6:00 PM ET


Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138


$35.00 (book included) $12.00 (admission only)

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. She will be joined in conversation by GRACE TALUSAN—award-winning author of The Body Papers.


There are two ticket options for this event. After the presentation at the Brattle Theatre, the author would like to invite attendees to join her for a post-event reception and book signing at Phillips Brooks House Parlor Room, Harvard Yard. Please note books will NOT be for sale at the Phillips Brooks House. They will only be for sale at the Brattle Theatre, so be sure to purchase a copy before you leave the theater.   

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.

Grace Talusan
Grace Talusan

Grace Talusan

Grace Talusan wrote, The Body Papers, which won the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing and the Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction. She teaches nonfiction writing at Brown University and is on the board of the National Book Critics Circle. Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulbright, US Artists, the Brother Thomas Fund, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Photo Credit: Alonso Nichols

Susan Lieu
Susan Lieu

Susan 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.


Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 10 minutes

As you exit the station, cross Mass. Ave. and proceed along Brattle St. Follow Brattle St. as it curves to the right in Brattle Square (follow the sidewalk on the right side of the street). The Brattle will be on the left-hand side of the street. The building is shared with Algiers Cafe and Alden & Harlow Restaurant, and the theatre entrance is on the left side of the building—look for the sidewalk poster case and marquee.

Unable to attend a Harvard Book Store author event? You can still pre-order a signed book by one of our visiting authors.

While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.

Ordering a signed book on

  • Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
  • Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
  • Please note: online orders for signed copies must be placed at least one business day before the event. If you are ordering the day of, please call us instead.

Ordering a signed book by phone:

  • Call us at (617) 661-1515 and one of our booksellers will take your order. Specify you'd like a signed copy.
  • If you are requesting a personalized inscription and/or requesting your book be shipped, we'll need to take down credit card information. If you are planning to pick up the signed book in the store, you can pay on pick-up.


Can I request a personalized inscription?
Unless otherwise noted, we are happy to take requests for the author to sign your book to a specific person, but we can't guarantee it. If you do get a personalized inscription, the book will be non-returnable. We will require credit card information when you place the order.

Do signed books cost more?
There is no extra fee for a signed book!

Do I have to pick it up in the store, or can you deliver my signed book?
As with all web or phone orders, we can hold your book for in-store pickup, or ship it anywhere in the country.

I am planning to attend an author event. Do I need to pre-order a book?
No need. We'll be selling books at the event, and nearly all of our events include a signing at the end of the talk.

More questions? Give us a call!

General Info
(617) 661-1515

Media Inquiries

Accessibility Inquiries

Classic Totes

Tote bags and pouches
in a variety of styles,
sizes, and designs
, plus mugs, bookmarks, and more!

Learn More »

Shipping & Pickup

We ship anywhere in the U.S. and orders of $75+ ship free via media mail!

Learn More »

Noteworthy Signed Books: Join the Club!

Join our Signed First Edition Club (or give a gift subscription) for a signed book of great literary merit, delivered to you monthly.

Learn More »