Susan Lieu
Best-selling author, playwright, and performer

Susan Lieu, a Vietnamese-American author, playwright, and performer, tells stories that refuse to be forgotten. A daughter of nail salon workers, she took her autobiographical solo theater 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 featured at Bumbershoot and Wing Luke Museum. It has also been featured prominently at The Moth Mainstage, On The Boards, and The World Economic Forum.


The Manicurist’s Daughter

Her debut memoir, The Manicurist’s Daughter, is an Apple Book of the Month, Apple Book Must Listen of the Month, most anticipated 2024 book by Elle Magazine and Goodreads, L.A. Times’ Top 6 Books for Lunar New Year, and has been featured on NPR Books. Creator of Vagina Monologues, V (formerly Eve Ensler) calls The Manicurist’s Daughter “a stunning, raw, brave memoir that wouldn’t let me go.”


Speaking Engagements and Community Outreach

Speaking at more than a dozen universities, Susan Lieu delivered talks to Harvard, Brown, Tufts, UCLA, Mills College, the Claremont Colleges, and more. In addition, Susan has given talks at Google, Salesforce, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle Public Library Foundation, and the Dent Conference as their Artist-in-Residence.      

Also, Lieu is the co-host of The Model Minority Moms podcast and board member for international NGO Asylum Access. She worked with Consumer Watchdog to pass a law to raise medical malpractice caps to protect low-income BIPOC women. Susan and her sister co-founded Socola Chocolatier, an artisanal chocolate company based in San Francisco. She is a proud alumnus of Harvard College and Yale School of Management. She’s also a proud alumnus of Coro, Hedgebrook, Mineral School, Millay Arts, 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. Follow her on Instagram @susanlieu

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Celadon Books

An emotionally raw memoir about the crumbling of the American Dream and a daughter of refugees who searches for answers after her mother dies during plastic surgery.

Fireside Conversation with The Manicurist’s Daughter Vietnamese-American playwright, performer, and author Susan Lieu discusses her memoir about grief, trauma, body image, and finding your own place in the world–with vulnerability and humor.
Turning Pain into Power Susan’s mother died from a botched tummy tuck when Susan was just 11 years old. For the next two decades, her family never spoke of the matriarch ever again. On the brink of motherhood herself, Susan decides to avenge her mother’s death by processing her unresolved grief into a critically-acclaimed one-woman show, a memoir, and a new law. A lonely journey of solitary healing takes a turn when thousands come out to deal with their own trauma with her.
How to Make Peace with Your Belly Fat For years Susan has struggled with her body image. It didn’t help when her elders continued to body shame her after she lost her mother to a botched tummy tuck. Now a mother self, Susan grapples with her own intergenerational trauma around beauty–that is, until her ancestors smack some sense into her at a sweat lodge.
The Courage to Actually Pivot Fired from Corporate America and a failed comic, Susan was at a crossroads: keep applying to jobs that maximize income or follow that dormant voice of becoming a performer. With a mortgage and graduate school loans, Susan makes the irrational choice–and changes her life forever.

The Manicurist’s Daughter is featured as the Lemonda Media’s April 2024 pick and author/narrator Susan Lieu appeared on Lemonada Media’s podcast ADD TO CART to talk about the audiobook.

Susan Lieu chats with The Rumpus: “Courage, Confidence, and Craft: A Conversation with Susan Lieu”.

The Washington Post reviews The Manicurist’s Daughter. Read the full review here!

Listen to Susan Lieu’s interview with KUOW NPR Seattle station.

Watch Susan Lieu’s feature on Brut. Media.

"Susan Lieu is a remarkable force! I highly recommend her as a speaker. She touched everyone with her heartfelt and hilarious stories about family, loss, and healing. Students lined up afterwards to share how much Susan’s presence and life wisdom meant to them. She has the ability to deeply connect, name pain, and move us collectively towards reconciliation."
—Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, University of California, Irvine

"It was such a joy to host Susan Lieu at UCLA in celebration of her hot-off-the-press memoir, The Manicurist's Daughter, which addresses beauty standards, gendered labor, Vietnamese refugee resilience, and complicated relationships to food. Susan wow-ed our students with her all-emotions-bared, heart-to-heart talk/performance. We are so appreciative of her bravery and generosity!”
—Evyn Lê Espiritu Gandhi, Associate Professor, Department of Asian American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

“Susan Lieu is by far the most compelling author we have hosted, when it comes to why libraries matter and how they bring forward a sense of belonging. Thank you for sharing your incredible story. It was a magical moment.”
—Jonna Ward, CEO of Seattle Public Library Foundation

Praise for The Manicurist's Daughter “Lieu’s candor about her mother’s faults (body-shaming chief among them) and righteous anger at the surgeon who killed her set this apart from similar fare. It’s a generous portrait of grief that will touch those who’ve struggled with loss.….a stirring debut.”
Publishers Weekly

“An intimate Asian American memoir about family, memory, and grief.”

"Lieu’s resulting memoir is a stunning feat of investigation, introspection, wit and candor; it braids together family history, grief, body image, food, class, race, and resilience for insight that must not be missed."

“[A] well-paced, panoramic memoir… her family story does not represent an irretrievable demise of the American Dream, but its radical, open-ended evolution.”

“[Lieu] penned a beautifully written, poignant, and, at times funny, book about grief, body image and self-awareness — arriving at a place of healing and acceptance of herself and her family.”
The Seattle Times

“Lieu is a dynamo, spouting humor, profanity and wisdom in the same breath.”
LA Times, "6 Books for Lunar New Year"