James Sullivan was born and raised in Quincy, Massachusetts. He graduated from Colby College and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Teaching-Writing Fellow and was awarded a James Michener/Paul Engle Fellowship. He is the author of a memoir, OVER THE MOAT. His journalism has appeared in the New York Times and various National Geographic publications. He lives with his family outside Portland, Maine, a few miles from the birthplace of film director John Ford, who steamed into Omaha Beach on the destroyer USS Plunkett.

Intro About OVER THE MOAT In the fall of 1992, James Sullivan traveled to Vietnam to bicycle from Saigon to Hanoi. He’d just finished graduate school and had an assignment to write a magazine story about a country that was still subject to a United States trade embargo. But in Hue, the old imperial capital of Vietnam, the planned three-month bike trip took a detour. Here, in a city spliced by the famed Perfume River and filled with French baroque villas, he found himself bicycling over a moat to visit a beautiful shop girl who lived amid the ruins of the last imperial dynasty of Vietnam. She fell for him, but there's a catch. Several other suitors were vying for her hand, and one of them was an official with the city's police force. OVER THE MOAT is the story of Sullivan's efforts to win Thuy's favor while immersing himself in Vietnamese culture, of kindly insinuating himself in Thuy's large, tight-knit family, and of learning how to create a common language based on love and understanding.

Praise for OVER THE MOAT

The Boston Sunday Globe

Near-perfect….Sullivan’s description and characterization are deft and sure, and his dialogue crackles, carrying always an emotional subtext….The book is a masterful blend of travelogue, love story, memoir, and cultural anthropology, with a dash of guidebook and phrasebook thrown in. Ten years from now, I hope to read the sequel to this book, the flip side, the States-side, the return, the dis-Orientation. In the interim, I’ll settle for any story Sullivan wants to tell.

John Freeman
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (syndicated)

If you’re the kind of reader who wishes that Jack Kerouac had lived a little longer and discovered the Far East, OVER THE MOAT should be at the top of your bedside stack. Not only does Sullivan sketch Vietnam with wide-eyed lyricism, but he imbues this story with a whiff of romanticism that has sadly become a bugaboo in current travel writing.

The Washington Post Book World

At its core this memoir is a love story, but one that dispenses with all the froth and fuss that have come to be associated with the genre….OVER THE MOAT [is] an essential entry in the canon of expatriate literature.

Boston Magazine
January 2004 Book Club Selection

A deftly told tale, recounted without affectation….Anyone who picks up this splendid memoir will be delighted that true love prevailed at last.

Robert Olen Butler
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

OVER THE MOAT tells a tale we sorely need to hear at this moment in history. This true story of an American man and a Vietnamese woman gives us a vision of how to reach with love across the boundaries of race and culture in the aftermath of war. Elegantly written, redolent of our universal humanity, this is an important book.

Abraham Verghese
Cutting for Stone

A Vietnamese girl behind a shop counter in the city of Hue gives a young American one year to win her heart-what a wonderful premise for a novel. But OVER THE MOAT isn’t fiction; it’s a true story. Sullivan’s tenacity, passion, luck, and the purity of his love come through in his prose, and he has succeeded admirably both in the telling of this story and in the living of it.

Larry Heinemann
Paco′s Story

OVER THE MOAT is a fine piece of writing. Here is a story about modern Vietnam. Here is the much-celebrated city of Hue. Here are two lovers trying their best despite language and culture to merely and genuinely be in love.

Don J. Snyder
The Cliff Walk

OVER THE MOAT carries us on a thoughtful journey along the crowded boulevards of dreams and the unlit paths of love and human understanding in a distant place where we turn a corner and catch an unexpected glimpse of ourselves. It is a gift.

Lewis Robinson
Officer Friendly

James Sullivan has written a brilliant, intimate account of desperation. Cast within the layered textures of contemporary Vietnam, this is a vivid book with irresistible underpinnings: desire and discovery.

Stewart O′Nan
The Names of the Dead

James Sullivan is the best kind of guide-adventurous, intelligent and desperately interested. OVER THE MOAT takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the country and the culture, never letting us forget that, as Americans, we’re just visitors.

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