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Viet Thanh Nguyen    

Author, "The Sympathizer"

Viet Thanh Nguyen is a literary scholar and fiction writer crafting a more nuanced portrait of the Vietnam War and exploring the myriad ways that war lives on in representation and collective memory. In fiction and nonfiction works that serve as complements to one another, Nguyen reveals how depictions of the Vietnam War, and of the refugees it displaced, often fail to capture the full humanity and inhumanity, the sacrifices and savagery, of participants on opposing sides of the conflict.

His novel, The Sympathizer (2015), calls attention to the blind spots in American perspectives on the war by assuming the point of view of an unusually multifaceted character: a communist double agent who works for a South Vietnamese general while spying for the North Vietnamese, both during the war and after taking refuge in the United States.

He delves further into the subject of one-sided accounts of conflict in his 2016 nonfiction book, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War.

With his recently published collection of short stories, The Refugees (2017), he continues his exploration of the tensions, traumas and conflicting loyalties that endure far beyond a war's end. Nguyen's body of work not only offers insight into the experiences of refugees past and present but also poses profound questions about how we might more accurately and conscientiously portray victims and adversaries of other wars.

He has been a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies (2011-2012), the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard (2008-2009) and the Fine Arts Work Center (2004-2005). He has also received residencies, fellowships, and grants from the Luce Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Asian Cultural Council, the James Irvine Foundation, the Huntington Library, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Creative Capital and the Warhol Foundation. In 2017, she was named a MacArthur 'Genius' Grant recipient.

Nguyen received a B.A. (1992) and Ph.D. (1997) from the University of California at Berkeley. He is also the author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (2002) and co-editor of Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field (2014). His essays and short stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Ploughshares, American Literary History, Asian American Literary Review, and The Atlantic, among other publications. He has been affiliated with the University of Southern California since 1997, where he is currently the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and a professor in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity and the Department of Comparative Literature.

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