Lan Cao, Boyd Fellow and Professor of Law at the College of William and Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law, wrote the first novel by a Vietnamese American about the Vietnam War and its aftermath.
Monkey Bridge (1997), which tells the story of a mother and daughter airlifted out of Saigon during the last days of the war, earned Cao lavish praise from authors and critics. “In this extraordinary book,” wrote Isabel Allende, “Lan Cao gives us a new perspective on Vietnam … connecting on one level the opposite realities of Vietnam and North America, and on a deeper level the realities of the material world and the world of the spirits.”
Like the protagonist in Monkey Bridge, Cao was born in Vietnam; she moved to the U.S. when she was 13. After graduating from Mount Holyoke magna cum laude with a major in political science, she went on to Yale Law School, where she earned her J.D. in 1987.
Cao joined the law faculty of William and Mary in 2001; prior to that, she taught at Michigan Law School, Brooklyn Law School, and Duke University School of Law. She specializes in international business and trade, international law, and law and development. Cao is coauthor of Everything You Need to Know about Asian Americans (1996) and has written numerous law review articles. She was a Ford Foundation Scholar in 1991.