[ONLINE] - Lisa M. Hamilton, The Hungry Season: A Journey of War, Love, and Survival


In the tradition of Katherine Boo and Tracy Kidder, The Hungry Season is an unforgettable portrait of resilience: a nonfiction drama ranging from the mist-covered mountains of Laos to the sunbaked flatlands of Fresno, California, tracing one woman’s journey to overcome the wounds inflicted by war and family alike​.

As combat rages across the highlands of Vietnam and Laos, a child is born. Ia Moua enters the world at the bottom of the social order, both because she is part of the Hmong minority and because she is a daughter, not a son. When, at thirteen, she is promised in marriage to a man three times her age, it appears that Ia’s future has been decided for her. But after brutal communist rule upends her life, this intrepid girl resolves to chart her own defiant path.

With ceaseless ambition and an indestructible spirit, Ia builds a new existence for herself and, before long, for her children, first in the refugee camps of Thailand and then in the industrial heartland of California’s San Joaquin Valley. At the root of her success is a simple act: growing Hmong rice, just as her ancestors did, and selling it to those who hunger for the Laos of their memories. While the booming business brings her newfound power, it also forces her to face her own past. In order to endure the present, Ia must confront all that she left behind, and somehow find a place in her heart for those who chose to leave her.

Meticulously reported over seven years and written with the intimacy of a novel, Lisa M. Hamilton’s The Hungry Season is the story of one radiant woman’s quest for survival—and for the nourishment that matters most.

Join the New America Fellows Program for a conversation with 2019 National Fellow Lisa M. Hamilton and Jill N. Filipovic, Class of 2019, about The Hungry Season.


Lisa M. Hamilton
2019 National Fellow, New America
Author, The Hungry Season

Jill N. Filipovic
2019 ASU Future Security Fellow, New America

Copies of The Hungry Season are available for purchase here through our bookselling partner Solid State Books.