Monique Truong is a Vietnamese American writer based in Brooklyn. Her collaborations with the composer Joan La Barbara include the lyrics for the choral work “A Murmuration for Chibok,” a commission for the Young People’s Chorus of NY and the song cycle “The Wanderlusting of Joseph C.,” and the libretto for the opera-in-progress “Dreams of Water Beyond One’s Depth.” Truong’s first novel, The Book of Salt (Houghton Mifflin 2003), was a national bestseller, New York Times Notable Fiction book, and recipient of the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, among other honors. Her second novel, Bitter in the Mouth (Random House 2010), received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was named a best fiction book of the year by Barnes & Noble and Hudson Booksellers. Her third novel The Sweetest Fruits is forthcoming from Viking Books. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and numerous national magazines. Most recently, Truong was the Fall 2016 Harman Writer-in-Residence at Baruch College (CUNY), a 2015 U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellow, 2012 Visiting Writer at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, and 2010 Guggenheim Fellow. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia University School of Law, Truong is also an intellectual property attorney.
Commissioned by the Young People’s Chorus of NY, “A Murmuration for Chibok” is a choral work by Joan La Barbara with lyrics by Monique Truong, which aims to honor and to keep in the vital present the over 250 school girls abducted in Chibok, Nigeria on April 14, 2014. The piece begins with ululations, evoking chatter, laughter, inquisitiveness, and the joy of their beginnings. A “murmuration” is both the act of murmuring and a flock of starlings, in particular the flock’s graceful, net-like swooping.