Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Video: Viet Thanh Nguyen

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As part of the Lannan Foundation Readings and Conversation series, Viet Thanh Nguyen is introduced by Maxine Hong Kingston, then reads from his work. Recorded March, 2017.

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Viet Thanh Nguyen (born March 13, 1971) is a Vietnamese-American novelist. He is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. Nguyen’s debut novel, The Sympathizer, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction among other accolades, including the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from an American Author from the Mystery Writers of America, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in Fiction from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association. He was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2017.

Nguyen was born in Ban Me Thuot, Vietnam in 1971, the son of immigrants from North Vietnam who moved south in 1954. After the fall of Saigon, in 1975, his family fled to the United States. Nguyen’s family first settled in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, which was one of four American camps that accommodated refugees from Vietnam. Nguyen’s family then moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania until 1978. His family later moved to San Jose, California, where they opened up a Vietnamese grocery store, one of the first of its kind in the area.

Besides The Sympathizer, Nguyen has released two additional books:  Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, a nonfiction examination of how the Vietnam War has been remembered by many countries and people; and The Refugees, a collection of fictional stories exploring questions of immigration, identity, love, and family.

Running time: 54:19

Email subscribers may click on the title of this post to watch the video.

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Viet Thanh Nguyen

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