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“To be capable of seeing things from multiple points of view, to be capable of being sympathetic, not just with our friends but with our enemies, is perhaps not enough to prevent wars or to change the world, but it is certainly necessary if we want those things to happen.” Viet Thanh Nguyen
How might the idea of community be understood within an integrative framework, or even as a viable feature of the polymathic life? Professor Viet Thanh Nguyen helps us explore community as polymathic through a discussion of his recent Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Sympathizer. The story’s principle character is a Viet Cong spy, who under forced confession to another Vietnamese interrogator, provides the novel’s narrative arc. Through his unnamed protagonist, Professor Nguyen articulates the historically silenced, albeit fractured and diverse, voices of the Vietnamese people concerning the Vietnam War and its aftermath. Nguyen’s unique confessional literary formula allows for an unusual dialogue between and among the marginalized. He artfully conveys through one voice, the varied feelings, memories, and historical interpretations of the war from Vietnamese points of view. Join Professor Nguyen in discussion of what community means for us today in our fractured and divided world.
Viet Thanh Nguyen, Associate Professor of English
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s first novel, The Sympathizer, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, in addition to the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Literary Excellence from the American Library Association, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in Fiction from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association. He also authored Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (Oxford University Press, 2002) and was the co-editor of Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field (University of Hawaii Press, 2014). His next book is Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, forthcoming from Harvard University Press in April 2016.
His teaching and service awards include the Mellon Mentoring Award for Faculty Mentoring Graduate Students, the Albert S. Raubenheimer Distinguished Junior Faculty Award for outstanding research, teaching and service, the General Education Teaching Award, and the Resident Faculty of the Year Award. Multimedia has been a key part of his teaching. In a recent course on the American War in Viet Nam, he and his students created An Other War Memorial, which won a grant from the Fund for Innovative Undergraduate Teaching and the USC Provost's Prize for Teaching with Technology.
His writing has been translated into Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Spanish, and he has given invited lectures in China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Germany. In his spare time, he co-directs the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network and edits diaCRITICS, a blog on Vietnamese and diasporic Vietnamese arts and culture. Nguyen is an associate professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity.