Viet Nguyen Awarded MacArthur Fellowship

The MacArthur Foundation has awarded Viet Thanh Nguyen with a 2017 MacArthur Fellowship for his work as a fiction writer and cultural critic. In particular, the MacArthur Foundation recognizes Viet Nguyen’s contributions to “challenging popular depictions of the Vietnam War and exploring the myriad ways that war lives on for those it has displaced.”

The MacArthur Foundation awards fellowships to “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” The MacArthur Fellowship is a $625,000, no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential.

The following is an excerpt from the New York Times article announcing the 2017 MacArthur Fellows.

Mr. Nguyen, who won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for his novel “The Sympathizer,” said he wanted to use some of the money to hire an editor to oversee the blog he created for the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network, as recognition to the broader tradition that made his own success possible.

“I think back to the first Asian-American writers,” he said. “They were really lonely people back then. They deserve this fellowship, too.”

Mr. Nguyen, a professor of English and American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California who has toggled between fiction and scholarship, added that the honor came with something paradoxical: a new opportunity to fail.

“I’ve always been someone who didn’t understand why we had these boundaries between disciplines, but when you try something new it can be humiliating,” he said. “Hopefully that’s something the MacArthur will enable: to continue risking humiliation.”

Category: News


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