Yams are more than a root vegetable to writer Hoang Samuelson’s family; they represent survival.

In a captivating piece for Catapult, writer Hoang Samuelson traces her family’s history through the lens of conflict, loss, and vegetables. Her parents came of age in Vietnam after the 1944-45 famine that killed millions of people, and their lives were later shaped by the Vietnam War. After the fall of Saigon, Samuelson’s mother made a living as a food vendor, though she struggled to feed her own family. Later, an empty field near the family’s home in the small village of Tra Co presented an opportunity to plant yams and potatoes, “starchy delights” that came to represent “a livelihood that aided them through the hard times.” Samuelson’s story is definitely worth a read. —Tina Vasquez

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