All That's Left Unsaid

Tracey Lien

All That's Left Unsaid
HarperCollins Publishers
United Kingdom
30 August 2022

All That’s Left Unsaid

Tracey Lien

Winner of The Readings New Australian Fiction Prize 2023

Winner of the 2023 Davitt Award for Best Adult Novel

There were a dozen witnesses to Denny Tran’s brutal murder in a busy Sydney restaurant. So how come no one saw anything?

‘Just let him go.’ Those are words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation. That night in 1996, Denny – optimistic, guileless, brilliant Denny – is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in Cabramatta, a Sydney suburb facing violent crime, an indifferent police force, and the worst heroin epidemic in Australian history.

Returning home for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by her brother’s case: several people were at Lucky 8 restaurant when Denny died, but each of the bystanders claim to have seen nothing.

As an antidote to grief and guilt, Ky is determined to track down the witnesses herself. With each encounter, she peels away another layer of the place that shaped her and Denny, exposing the trauma and seeds of violence that were planted well before that fateful celebration dinner: by colonialism, by the war in Vietnam, and by the choices they’ve all made to survive.


Tracey Lien’s debut novel is a striking blend of unputdownable murder mystery and complex exploration of racial identity and the intricate bonds between friends and family.

When Ky Tran’s brother, Denny, is brutally murdered on the night of his high school graduation, she is shocked that the police do not seem to care enough to bring the killers to justice. On top of that, the dozen witnesses at the scene of the crime claim not to have seen anything. Determined to learn the truth of her brother’s death, Ky takes it upon herself to interrogate the witnesses. As she listens to the stories of those closest to Denny, she learns that her brother may not have been the perfect, compliant student she thought him to be, and starts to question the nature of the place where she grew up – and the people inhabiting it.

This novel is a social commentary on the discrimination and hate crimes committed towards Asian Australians. Set in 1996 Cabramatta, where Lien grew up as a child, the stories Ky learns lay bare the inherited trauma and violence caused by colonialism and the Vietnam War, which resulted in an exodus of more than 80,000 Vietnamese people who sought refuge in Australia in the decade following that conflict. All That’s Left Unsaid offers insight into the complicated past of this Sydney suburb, which is now home to one of Australia’s largest Vietnamese communities, and examines the generational trauma experienced by Asian Australians and the slow progress to reckon with the devastating effects of the White Australia Policy. Lien effortlessly weaves a compelling thriller with piercing observations of Australia’s ostensible ‘celebration’ of multiculturalism, announcing herself as a bold, new Australian voice that’s much-needed today.

Aurelia Orr is a bookseller at Readings Kids.

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