Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Viet Thanh Nguyen and Vu Tran: “Narrative Plentitude” | Talks at Google

Viet Thanh Nguyen and Vu Tran discuss narrative plentitude and Asian representation in popular culture during this Talk at Google.

Here is the transcript:

Viet Nguyen: Thanks for the introduction. Thanks to Barb and to Jinja for bringing us both out here. And I just want to say, you guys have a great building, workspace, whatever you want to call it. I’m just bummed I didn’t get invited for the full day so I could make use of the massage facilities and your video games and everything else.

Vu Tran: I just want the tea thing.

Viet Nguyen: The tea bots. That’s pretty amazing.

Vu Tran: The tea bot, yes. I would like to have that.

Viet Nguyen: I’d make use of that.

Vu Tran: Well it’s great to be talking to you again. And thank everyone for coming. I thought we would begin our conversation with Crazy Rich Asians. You mentioned it during our tour and I thought that would be a good place to start.

Viet Nguyen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Vu Tran: I think by the movie and the book’s definitely, I don’t believe either of us are crazy rich. But you’re doing quite well.

Viet Nguyen: I think we’re only one out of three. We’re Asians.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: That’s about it.

Vu Tran: But the movie is a starting point for an op ed you wrote recently in the New York Times about Narrative Plenitude, about how movie as popular as Crazy Rich Asians can never be on its own. It can never on its own vitalize the presence of Asian Americans on the screen, and that we need as many of those kinds of movies to do that. And this idea you kind of came up with in your book Nothing Ever Dies, and speaks to a scenario where stories featuring certain races or communities are in abundance, and in that abundance allows for not only a range of portrayals, but also a range of quality of portrayals, right.

Vu Tran: It bestows upon them the privilege of being mediocre because there are enough high quality portrayals to absorb the low quality ones. Whereas you say narrative scarcity does not allow for something like that, for mediocrity for example. And that it’s narrow, or inhuman, or simply mediocre portrayals ends up defining that race or community.

Vu Tran: So I wanted to ask you if you could talk more about this idea of narrative plenitude and how it affects the Asian American community, and your own personal confrontation with it.

Viet Nguyen: Well, you grew up in Oklahoma, right.

Vu Tran: I did.

Viet Nguyen: So I think you probably had an even harder time of it than I did. And I grew up in San Jose, in northern California in the 70’s and 80’s. And San Jose in northern California, it’s a diverse multicultural place and everything like that. And I grew up in a rougher part of time. So I was surrounded by Vietnamese refugees and Mexican immigrants and people like that. But even so, at a certain point I had a very personal confrontation with this idea that there weren’t enough stories about people like us.

Viet Nguyen: That is I went to a very elite high school. It was mostly an all white high school, except that there was a handful of us who were Asian decent. We knew we were different we just didn’t know how. But every day at lunch we would gather in the corner of the campus and we would call ourselves the Asian Invasion.

Viet Nguyen: This is the mid 1980’s. That was the only language we had for ourselves, was this racist term. And obviously instead of being crazy rich Asians at the time, we knew we were the Asians who were threatening to take over.

Viet Nguyen: And funny thing was last year I had a chance to go back and visit that campus and give a talk to all 1,600 students, and we really have taken over. But that’s another story.

Viet Nguyen: But looking back at that time I think what I realize now that I didn’t know then is that we were living in narrative scarcity, that we didn’t have enough stories about us. And that the only stories that we could refer to were these racist stories about Asians who were invading. Obviously the idea of Asian wars and things like that, which many of us had come from or fled from.

Viet Nguyen: And looking back I know that what I needed, what we all needed back then, were more stories. And we needed more writers. We needed more filmmakers. We needed more artists. We needed more politicians. We needed more journalists who would be getting our stories and our voices out there.

Viet Nguyen: And that is the difference between narrative scarcity and narrative plenitude. Narrative scarcity means very few of the stories out there are about you, whoever you happen to be, whatever kind of minority you happen to be coming from.

Vu Tran: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Viet Nguyen: Narrative plenitude is when almost all the stories are about you. And that’s one of the sure signs that you are part of some kind of majority, when you can take it for granted that some fundamental part of who you are is being shown to you in the stories that you encounter. And when you live in an environment like that you totally take it for granted.

Viet Nguyen: So when somebody makes a stupid Hollywood movie you can say that’s just Hollywood. That’s just a movie. That’s just a story. Most of my students say that all the time. I say you’re right. One story that’s about story is just a story. But when all the stories are saying the same thing, then it’s more than just a story. It’s actually saying something fundamental about the culture. And so again, if all the stories are about you it’s saying something about who you are as a part of this culture.

Viet Nguyen: And when most of the stories are not about you or not about us, then when the one story comes out that is about you, enormous weight is put on that.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: So for better, for worse.

Vu Tran: You can’t casually dismiss it.

Viet Nguyen: You can’t casually dismiss it. So when Crazy Rich Asians came out there’s the reason why there was so much pressure put on this is because Hollywood had not made a movie with Asian American leading actors in about 25 years, since Joy Luck Club.

Viet Nguyen: So everybody’s like this better be a good movie. Because if it’s a good movie it’ll change all of our fortunes. And if it’s a bad movie we’ll never get another movie for another 25 years. That’s a totally unfair expectation to put on a movie. But this is what narrative scarcity is about.

Viet Nguyen: And I think the ramifications of that simply beyond the world of artists and storytellers is it’s true pretty much everywhere else. If you are part of a minority you are not allowed the luxury of mediocrity. If you succeed or if you fail, your success or your failure somehow tied to your entire group.

Vu Tran: Yeah, right.

Viet Nguyen: I’m assuming. I mean, it’s true in a lot of corporations. I don’t know how it is here. But you feel this weight, this burden, of being representative for your people, whatever that people happens to be.

Viet Nguyen: So I think go back, just talking about writing. I don’t know if that’s something you feel, but certainly I think I felt that.

Vu Tran: And was it immediate? What was the evolution of that confrontation with this scarcity? Did it always come to you in political terms? Or was it just you noticing I’m not on the screen, I’m not in books, I’m not in TV? How did that evolution kind of?

Viet Nguyen: Well when I was growing up it gradually dawned on me that I’m Vietnamese.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: I come from a family of Vietnamese refugees. I’m a Vietnamese refugee. And pretty much the only way my experience or my family’s experience, or the experience of all these Vietnamese refugees in San Jose meant anything to the rest of the country was through the Vietnam War.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: That that’s the only reason anybody else had to know anything about us.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: Another problem though is that in this country when people hear the word Vietnam they don’t often times thing of the country right away. Maybe things have changed now. Maybe now when you say Vietnam in 2018 people will think Banh Mi or Pho, or something like that. But in 1984 when you said Vietnam, people meant the Vietnam War.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: And when people say the Vietnam War they really mean the American war. So it gradually dawned on me that there were no stories about us. And there were very few stories about Asians in general in the 1980’s.

Viet Nguyen: I remember going to a bookstore when I was about 18 or 19 and finding The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, which had just gotten published that year of the year before. And just amazed that there was a book, a novel by someone who was Asian, or Asian American. That was a mind blowing-

Vu Tran: That was popular.

Viet Nguyen: And that it was popular. And that it was actually a pretty good book. So I was blown away by that. That made a huge difference to me. It made me think where has this book been? Or where have other books been like this? And that set me down the road as a student, as a college student, of trying to find everything that had been written by Asian American writers first of all, and then secondarily by Vietnamese and Vietnamese American writers. And there’s a handful that work out there.

Viet Nguyen: So sometimes I think about the very first Vietnamese American writer to get published, which was around the 1960’s, and how lonely that person must have been. Now you and I come out and there are literally dozens of Vietnamese American writers out there.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: But you couldn’t make that assumption two or three decades ago.

Vu Tran: I want to talk about the Vietnam War, especially in terms of its portrayal on the screen. But I was first curious, in what mode or realm of representation, whether it’s movies, books, or other art forms, do you think narrative scarcity is most dangerous? And in which mode or realm of representation do you think narrative plenitude can be most beneficial? Does that make sense?

Viet Nguyen: Well I go around the country giving talks. And one of the things that I try to tell everybody is look, people like you and me, we’re professional storytellers. We write books for a living, write op eds for the New York Times. But we are all storytellers in the sense that we all absorbed some stories that we take for granted. And we tell these stories to each other all the time. Most often, for example about what this country is. What is America? What is it supposed to be?

Viet Nguyen: These are stories that we tell each other. So when the current President says, “Make America great again,” that’s a story in four words, and it’s an enormously powerful story for a lot of people, even for people who disagree with the story. It’s an enormously powerful story.

Viet Nguyen: So we go home and we tell those kinds of stories to other people. Here’s a story that I encountered when I was growing up in San Jose. My parents had opened the second Vietnamese grocery store in San Jose, downtown. I remember walking down the street from my parent’s store when I was around 10 or 11 and seeing a sign in a store window and it said, “Another American driven out of business by the Vietnamese.”

Viet Nguyen: That’s not just a sign. That’s a story in nine words. And it’s a story that in fact, Americans have been telling each other for a very long. Time it’s just another American driven out of business by fill in the blank. It’s been told before. It was told during my parent’s time. It’s being told again with different populations for fill in the blank.

Viet Nguyen: So that’s an example of narrative scarcity, narrative plenitude. Because at that time in the 1980’s we the Vietnamese people didn’t have the access to try to contest that story. You know, I didn’t know how to make sense out of that story or how to fight back against it.

Viet Nguyen: And meanwhile, narrative plenitude means that there were people out there with the power to go around telling these kinds of stories and spreading them around.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: Asian Invasion is a story like that.

Vu Tran: And it’s a story that can be disseminated much more widely and reinforced more powerfully now with social media.

Viet Nguyen: Yeah.

Vu Tran: A five word story like that can spread much more powerfully nowadays right?

Viet Nguyen: Yup.

Vu Tran: Which underlines their power.

Viet Nguyen: That’s a good example, because obviously some people … I’m not very good at Twitter you know. I have like 16,000 followers, which is nothing in the world of Twitter. There are like 15 year old kids out there with 100,000 followers. I don’t know what they’re doing, but they know how to use that medium. They know how to tell stories in 140 or 280 characters or less.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: There’s so many ways to tell stories out there. Not just through the world of books or movies and so on. And that’s one of the things that social media has done is actually to transform that landscape. And I think that’s been empowering for a lot of people as they realize they actually are storytellers that can bypass all the established gatekeepers that you and I have to rely on like New York publishers and the like. So hopefully that brings to people this sense that in fact all of us are engaged in narratives in different ways.

Vu Tran: Well you talk about, in Nothing Ever Dies, about video games. That is another narrative that is … I don’t think some people realize how powerful video games are in terms of how they represent the worlds in those games. You talk about first person shooter for example.

Viet Nguyen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Vu Tran: And can you talk a little bit about that? Particularly I’m interested in how in a first person shooter the points of view … When you’re trying to kill the enemy you have to distance yourself from that enemy. And you can’t bestow that enemy any humanity because you’re absolute goal is to destroy your enemy. And something like a first person shooter game can really present a very dangerous narrative right?

Viet Nguyen: Well the video game industry is more economically profitable than Hollywood.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: I think. Because I mean it’s billions of dollars, all that kind of stuff. We who are writers, often times when we’re only in a room full of writers, we’ll make huge, grand statements about the power of literature.

Viet Nguyen: Oh literature will save us, writing will save us, blah, blah, blah. I’m like yes it’s true for those people who read books, okay. Or even smaller population of people who read novels.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: But everybody, almost everybody plays video games. And so the reach of video games and the way that they disseminate stories is really powerful.

Vu Tran: You call it seductive, which, I never thought of it in those terms.

Viet Nguyen: You’re not seduced when you play video games?

Vu Tran: I don’t play video games.

Viet Nguyen: Oh. Good for you.

Vu Tran: I don’t know why I don’t.

Viet Nguyen: Yeah.

Vu Tran: But yeah, seductive is a very good word for it. More so than any book or movie I feel like.

Viet Nguyen: I speak as someone easily seduced by video games.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: So throughout the stages of my life I’ll have gone out and bought the latest game console on credit, played it non stop for a week, and then got sick and disgusted with myself and then returned it.

Vu Tran: Okay.

Viet Nguyen: Because I know if I kept it in the house I would just never stop playing those things.

Vu Tran: Yeah, yeah.

Viet Nguyen: But what I say is that yes, novels and Shakespeare and so on, these are stories that if they’re good or if we like them, seduce us through the power of storytelling, and get us to empathize with the characters in the plays or the books in the stories and so on. But that’s what video games do as well. They get us to empathize, and we’re talking about first person games here.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: They get us to empathize with these characters and these narratives that have been created. And people spend more time playing these games than they would reading Marcel Proust. Okay, he wrote four volumes, In Search of Lost Time. This thick. Your average teenager, never gonna read it. Your average adult, never gonna read these things. But your average game player will spend dozens of hours playing these games in their artificially created worlds.

Viet Nguyen: And yes, I think they’re powerful. And yes, I think they’re seductive. And what happens there is that stories can really have implicit meanings. How many people here have actually played first person shooter games? Some. Okay, good. Unfortunately that’s the kind of game I like. I don’t know what it says about me. I like to. That’s the only game I like playing, shooting and destroying, and killing things.

Vu Tran: Actually me too. I say I don’t play video games, but when I did, those are the only games I would play.

Viet Nguyen: Right.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: And on the one hand yeah, you can probably say they’re harmless. On the other hand, are they? What are they actually training us to do? How are they training us to see the world? And the reason it comes up in a book like Nothing Ever Dies, Vietnam and the Memory of War, is that I try to make this connection and that and in general as Americans, our perspective on the world.

Viet Nguyen: When we think about the world, how do we think about the world? Americans are involved all over the world. And when we talk strictly about war and the military, we have over 800 bases around the world. This is a reality that most Americans are not engaged with. And our military presence is all over the place, but usually when we think about it we think about it from the perspective of American soldiers or American pilots or whatever. And when we actually see the world, often times it’s through literally the gun scopes of American weaponry, or the cameras of drones.

Viet Nguyen: That to me seems like a direct connection to the first person shooter. Not to say that everybody who plays a first person shooter is going to go out there piloting a drone, but that’s part of the connection.

Vu Tran: Yeah. It’s quite subliminal conditioning right? So I guess my question for you then is how would you then advise Asian American or any American, in their effort to build on something like Crazy Rich Asians? I mean, beyond just creating and engaging in these narratives, what else can we do?

Viet Nguyen: Well I look back in that time in the 1980’s when there were very few stories by and about Asian Americans, and I think yes, part of the problem was structural racism that were preventing our stories from getting out there. But part of the problem is Asian parents right? You know, those of you who are Asian parents.

Vu Tran: Please talk about this.

Viet Nguyen: Or gonna be Asian parents and so on.

Vu Tran: Asian parents, please.

Viet Nguyen: Yeah, you know. Asian parents bear some responsibility in saying don’t be writers, don’t be artists, to their kids. Don’t be creatives. Go into tech or medicine or whatever. And all that is very laudable and understandable and everything like that, but I go around … Again, I’m convinced of the power of storytelling. I’m convinced of the power of narrative. You don’t have to breed your kid to be a writer or something like that, but you have to be open to the possibility that stories really matter, okay.

Viet Nguyen: And there’s only so many doctors, and lawyers, and pharmacists, and nurses that we need out there. We need other people doing different kinds of things too. So that is an op that I want to write for the New York Times saying Asian parents do your bit to change the world.

Viet Nguyen: And one of the most rewarding things that’s happened to me when I go out and I speak, a couple of times, has been when an Asian parent has come up to me. Like I was at Brown University and this Vietnamese woman came up to me. She’s like 40 something. And she said oh, she either worked at a nail salon or she owned a nail salon. And she goes, “My son goes here to Brown.” And I said, “What does he major in?” And his major was so weird. It was like the stereotype of a Brown Humanities major. I don’t even know what it was. It wasn’t English. It wasn’t Women’s Studies. It was freakier than those things combined.

Viet Nguyen: And I said, “What do you think of that?” And she said, “I’m so proud of him.” I was like that’s a story I want to hear. So hopefully there are more parents out there like that who believe in these possibilities for their kids.

Vu Tran: I agree with you. In a word I would say I wish Vietnamese parents would embrace weirdness. As a culture we don’t like weirdness you know.

Viet Nguyen: Yeah.

Vu Tran: And whatever form that is, to be okay with it, to be somewhat comfortable, or at least comfortable with your discomfort with weirdness right.

Viet Nguyen: Yeah.

Vu Tran: And allow your kids to embrace it as well.

Viet Nguyen: I think part of that is due to Asian Americans being a relatively small minority in the last few decades. And so of course, when there’s fewer people there’s more pressure.

Vu Tran: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Viet Nguyen: Because of scarcity issues right? And the narrative scarcity, this idea that you have to go out there and represent your people and all of that.

Vu Tran: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Viet Nguyen: So you’ve got to be a good boy or good girl, whatever, and go out there and be a doctor and do all those kinds of things.

Vu Tran: Model Asian.

Viet Nguyen: Model Asians. But if we’re speaking just about Asians we’ve crossed the magic threshold. I think we’re like five or six percent of the national population. There’s more of a critical mass out there. I don’t know if the problems with Asian parents are any different than any other parents. I’m assuming if you take a cross section of America as a whole, a lot of parents out there want their kids to be doctors, and lawyers, and engineers in order to foot that $60,000 tuition bill and so on.

Viet Nguyen: But again, just with a smaller population there’s more pressure on us.

Vu Tran: I was also thinking of something you said in Nothing Ever Dies. You refer to Little Saigon in Orange County as the graze work of collective memory, these defeated people, these people have created in the sense that this recreation of home in southern California, in America, has allowed us, particularly southern Vietnamese, to control our memories of ourselves from back home, and also our own presence here in America. I guess it’s economic success as a mode of cultural capital. And it made me think that at the center of this is Vietnamese cuisine.

Viet Nguyen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Vu Tran: And all those Vietnamese restaurants that come out of, that started in Little Saigon and have spread all across the country. The fact that Vietnamese cuisine is taken seriously, Vietnamese food. Everyone not only knows what pho is, or most people do, but they also even know how to pronounce it now right?

Vu Tran: And I wonder, have you thought of this as a kind of narrative itself, Vietnamese cuisine?

Viet Nguyen: Yeah. So there’s Little Saigon in Chicago right? I don’t know what you call it-

Vu Tran: Yeah, yeah.

Viet Nguyen: But there’s a neighborhood of Vietnamese. Yeah.

Vu Tran: Argon, Argon, yeah.

Viet Nguyen: So those of you who haven’t been to Little Saigon in Orange County, that’s that neighborhood 100 times larger.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: And so yeah, basically one of the ways that you become American in this country is that you own real estate. And it’s through owning real estate that you make your presence felt. And so these so called ethnic neighborhoods are a very important way of Americanization. Because you go, you drive to Orange County, you drive to Westminster, Santa Ana, you cannot help but see streets and streets and streets full of Vietnamese businesses or Vietnamese signage and all of that. It’s a very bold proclamation that we are here. It is an enormously important part of telling that narrative right.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: And from out of that concentration. This is a very American thing. I’ve been to Paris for example, and in France, the French don’t like this. They don’t like ethnic concentrations. But in this country, because of our particular history we do, or we allow it anyway. And so we tell that kind of a story. And then of course, besides real estate there’s the food that you’re talking about, and food is an important story. How do we go from a moment in the 1970’s and 1980’s where the perception, the American perception, racist perception of Vietnamese is that we ate dogs?

Vu Tran: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Viet Nguyen: These were stories that were circulating back then, right? And now we’ve gone from that to pho. We’ve gone from that moment to Rachael Ray making horrible pho, okay. I was like, you’ve just taken something and put the word pho on it. It has no relationship to the actual food. I’m sort of okay with that. I’m sort of okay with that because it means that we’ve actually changed the vocabulary.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: We’ve changed the story.

Vu Tran: We’ve gone far enough for someone like that to do something.

Viet Nguyen: We’ve gone far enough for someone to debase us in our food, appropriate us. Trader Joe’s has, oh my god. Trader Joe’s I went there. I made a mistake. I just wanted to try goi cuon, the spring roll. They have it at Trader Joe’s. The vermicelli wrapping around vegetables. It was horrible. It was horrible. But at least we’ve gotten that far.

Vu Tran: That’s what you mean. It’s like that kind of plenitude allows for mediocre or even awful stuff like that.

Viet Nguyen: Right.

Vu Tran: And that’s a kind of a good thing.

Viet Nguyen: Right. Because I think most people will know if they go and they get pho from Trader Joe’s it’s going to suck.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: I think people are smart enough to know that. So that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That’s actually a good thing. For example, when The Refugees, my short story collection came out, I went to Costco once and they had it. They had a pallet full. Not a pallet. They had like several stacks of The Refugees. And I thought I’ve made it. I’ve made it.

Vu Tran: Made it to Costco.

Viet Nguyen: You made it to Costco. You made it to Trader Joe’s. That’s what we’re striving for. And this goes into the whole authenticity thing. Like nobody in their right minds will think they’re getting good pho from Trader Joe’s. But the point is that then people will say I know where to get the good pho.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: I’m in the know. So I know where the authentic Vietnamese food is. So that’s part of the dynamic of narratives as well. Like these people over here, they don’t know enough to deal with the different between good bahn mi or good pho, bad pho, bad banh mi. We do. We don’t have to be Vietnamese, but we’re really hip. We know what’s going on. So that’s true for narratives of all kinds. Whether it’s movies or books or food. Because now very hip and smart Americans will go yeah I know about fish sauce.

Viet Nguyen: I was at Brown, I was just joking around. It was just a continental restaurant.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: In Providence. And I was just looking at my plate of fish, whatever it was, and I thought it would be better with fish sauce. And the waiter said, “We have fish sauce.” And he did. He was not Vietnamese. This was not a Vietnamese restaurant.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: So I thought we made it. In this continental European kind of restaurant they have a bottle of fish sauce for people who ask. But we have a secret ingredient beyond that that most Americans do not know about.

Vu Tran: Do tell.

Viet Nguyen: That’s even more authentic than fish sauce. Shrimp paste.

Vu Tran: Oh god.

Viet Nguyen: Yeah. Oh yeah. That is the nuclear option.

Vu Tran: Are we gonna get there with shrimp?

Viet Nguyen: That is the nuclear option.

Vu Tran: Oh wow. But you know, back to this kind of model, Asian, and especially the kind of economic model of success that a lot of immigrants, particularly Vietnamese really celebrated. And it comes out of the success of a place like Little Saigon. And I wonder about the problematic aspects of that. For example, it does reinforce this notion that to be a success it has to be an economic success or financial success.

Vu Tran: And that also more deeply, it seems to me this is how Vietnamese also end up supporting arguments against immigration and against the more, newer refugees coming in. It’s this kind of contradiction where people always wonder … okay, so my parents voted for Trump right. And when you have an example like that people ask how could they as refugees now support someone who’s so against immigration and refugees?

Vu Tran: Why do you think we do this? I feel like it’s kind of founded in this idea of what is a successful immigrant don’t you think?

Viet Nguyen: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Definitely, there are a lot of-

Vu Tran: Does that make sense?

Viet Nguyen: Yeah, it totally makes sense. And it’s true. There are a lot of fervent supporters of Donald Trump for example in the Vietnamese American community and they will wear the read Make America Great hat also. And I think there’s a number of different narratives that are happening there.

Viet Nguyen: One is the idea of the American dream. Vietnamese refugees really believe they have succeeded in the United States, and they’ve done it the right way, and everybody else should do it the right way. And therefore that means going through the legal procedures and everything.

Viet Nguyen: They also participate in a very important American narrative too which is that this is a country in which people get the right to forget where they came from.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: Right? Right? I mean if you’re an American of three or four generations you may have a very fuzzy notion of who your ancestors are, how they came here, and so on. And just because they were immigrants two or three or four generations back, doesn’t mean you’re going to be apathetic.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: With the new immigrants that come in. You’re an American now. And part of what it means to be American, part of our history, is that we have barriers and borders and exclusionary acts and things like this. And the Vietnamese Americans now who want to maintain that border and so on, they’re participating in that same American narrative to become American and to forget where it is that they came from.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: So it’s not surprising. It’s ironic because we’re intimate with it and it’s more recent history, but it’s completely American to do these kinds of things.

Vu Tran: Yeah. I mean, you’ve written the secondary goal of the ethics of memory, this is in Nothing Ever Dies, again, “The second goal of this ethics of memory, especially for those formally casts as others, is to be empathetic to the ever new others on the horizon.”

Vu Tran: And it seems it’s too easy for us. Too often this doesn’t happen.

Viet Nguyen: To be empathetic to new others?

Vu Tran: To the new others.

Viet Nguyen: Yeah. I think we’re all capable of empathy. And again, this is what narratives and stories are supposed to do. They’re supposed to teach us empathy about people who are not like us. We read books and we watch movies about people who are not like us. But where do we draw that circle of empathy? How far out does it extend?

Viet Nguyen: Obviously, hopefully most of us are empathetic to our families for example.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: We’re empathetic to other Americans. But who counts as an Americans? So it’s totally possible to say I empathize with Americans, but my definition of Americans excludes certain kinds of people in this country. So I think this is part of the political tensions in our country, is that there are competing projects of empathy that are happening here. And competing projects of storytelling about what American is.

Viet Nguyen: There’s some people who want to say we should expand those borders of empathy to include the undocumented or refugees, or immigrants. And there’s other people who are saying no. We just want to take care of Americans, whatever Americans mean.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: And I don’t think these people who advocate for that would say they’re not empathetic. They’d say I am empathetic. I’m just empathetic with the people we need to take care of.

Vu Tran: To a degree.

Viet Nguyen: To a degree. The near and the dear.

Vu Tran: Yeah, yeah.

Viet Nguyen: And I feel that we as writers, our project is about approaching the far and the feared, whoever that happens to be. Those could be literally populations of people. You know foreigners, immigrants, undocumented, the people we’re at war with. Or the far and the feared could be what’s inside of us. That’s what we as writers are supposed to do.

Viet Nguyen: And so I think that’s why today the literary community is in such an uproar against the current administration. Because it just feels as if our definitions of empathy are radically different. And it is partially based on different ideas of storytelling, different ideas of narrative, different ideas of who it is should be at the center of our stories.

Vu Tran: But with this kind of new found empathy, where people do have a language to both express why certain representations of them have been either not satisfactory or dangerous, how do you then deal with products of the past once you see them in this new light? For example, you go back to you were talking about the Vietnam War as portrayed in movies, and you’ve written at length on that. That was that kind of narrative plentitude that Vietnamese Americans did have but in the bad way, right?

Vu Tran: For example, you’ve written about Apocalypse Now and how that became a space for white Americans to deal with both their humanity and humanity. But in doing so it left the Vietnamese only inhuman and distanced them. And example like Apocalypse Now, and there are many other examples of that, what do you then do with that now that you have this new insight? Does that make sense?

Viet Nguyen: Yeah. How many people here have actually seen Apocalypse Now? Oh you come from the generation that has. I go around now and people are like, like teenagers and college students, they have not seen this movie.

Vu Tran: Really?

Viet Nguyen: Yeah, they haven’t.

Vu Tran: I’m shocked.

Viet Nguyen: They haven’t, they haven’t. And so they’re-

Vu Tran: It used to be a cool thing in college that you had this poster on your dorm.

Viet Nguyen: It’s been a long time since we’ve been in college, so. It’s very generational shift. So you know what the movie’s about right? And I think that for those of us who feel like we’ve been excluded from narrative plenitude for whatever reason, there’s often times an impulse that we need to tell our own stories. We need to get our voices out there. And we’ve seen that we’ve been depicted as inhuman or stereotypes or whatever in mass media.

Viet Nguyen: So we’re gonna tell the story once we have the chance to tell the story. We’re gonna tell the story about how human we are, about how empathetic we are. And that’s powerful. I think it’s actually very limited at the same time. Because what it means to have narrative plenitude and to be part of the majority is that you can take for granted that you don’t have to prove your humanity.

Viet Nguyen: That’s why in an economy of narrative plenitude you can have movies about white people who are serial killers for example. And people are not going to go out of the movie theater and say oh my god. All white people are serial killers. You know? Right? You get to immerse yourself in the world of the serial killer and think hmm, yes, bad person. But I can empathize. If it’s a well done movie. You empathize with the full range of human possibility, from the inhuman to the human.

Viet Nguyen: Okay, so that’s why. For example. The TV shows that I was watching when I was writing The Sympathizer, were TV shows like the Sopranos, or The Wire. These are shows that are not going out there trying to prove the humanity of Americans. It’s simply looking at these people who are capable of a range of good and bad things, as we all are.

Viet Nguyen: That’s what we have to do. That’s what I feel. When we have the opportunity to tell our own stories, we have to proceed from the assumption that we’re already human, which means that we’re already inhuman at the same time.

Viet Nguyen: And my response to Apocalypse Now was not to write a novel that simply showed the tragedy of Vietnamese refugees and our human story and all that. No, They Sympathizer, for those of you who haven’t read it, shame on you.

Viet Nguyen: But it is a story about a spy who has to do bad things. And he’s an alcoholic. He’s a womanizer. He’s a murderer and all this kind of stuff. It’s a really good story okay. Precisely because it doesn’t try to prove any humanity or try to make the Vietnamese people look good or anything like that. It does the same kinds of gestures that these stories like the Sopranos or The Godfather and so on take for granted, which is that you can have anti heroes as your representatives and no one’s going to mistake them in somehow telling the entire story about in this case, Vietnamese people.

Vu Tran: But how do you re engage with something like Apocalypse Now or Platoon, or Deer Hunter the kinds of things that are not going to go away from the culture? How do you re engage, especially if you had previous to this new insight, you had a positive relationship with it? I think a lot of the response nowadays well I’m canceling it out you know. It’s a larger question too, but what do you do with Woody Allen for example, now that you know what you think you know? Have you thought about? How should the culture, if it sees a movie like Apocalypse Now in this new light, how should it re engage with it? Should it reject it completely? Should it-

Viet Nguyen: No, no, no. I have never gone out there and said, just to use Apocalypse Now as an example, we shouldn’t watch it or we should ban it or something like that. Never, never. My way to respond to it was to make fun of it, to satirize it. There was a big chunk of the novel, The Sympathizer that is basically a satirization of Apocalypse Now. It’s a part of our culture, canonical texts like this. And we need to respond to it like that.

Viet Nguyen: But it’s a very human, it’s a very intimate question for me, because like for example, I grew up a huge fan of the Tintin comics.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: I don’t know how many of you read Tintin for example right. Okay, I go back and I look at it as an adult I’m like oh there’s some racism in the Tintin comics that I enjoyed so much. But I actually have pretty much bought the complete collection in French and in English for my son who’s like five years old and we read it together.

Viet Nguyen: And I have to think about well these are great stories. He’s really into them. But he’s also being exposed to a certain idea about race from the 1930’s or the 1960’s. And Herge was a liberal, right. By the standards of the day he was actually sort of sympathetic to the colonized and things like that.

Viet Nguyen: But there’s no doubt that visually there are some racist, what we would now consider to be racist images in these books. And I sent my son to a school in which apparently the year before he enrolled, a parent got … It’s a French school so they’re very intimately aware of Tintin. A parent got so mad about this issue that she wanted to have Tintin pulled from the shelves. And then she took her kid out of the school. Okay, and she was white alright. And I wouldn’t do that. Because I think my son sooner or later is going to see these kinds of images, and I want to be the one to expose them to him first. I don’t want him to be on a school playground and have someone say racist terms to him, or do racist gestures or something like that and he’s gonna be all confused and come home to me.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: That’s probably going to happen anyway. But these images are already out there. We have to confront them. So that’s why I read these books with him. And he’ll look at it and he’ll say oh there’s a black man in here. I’m like that’s a very racist depiction of a black man in here.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: And he’s five years old. He’s not going to come back at me with some kind of discourse about this. But I know he’s absorbing it so we have this capacity to talk about that.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: I think that’s what we have to do with these kinds of stories.

Vu Tran: Allow that confrontation.

Viet Nguyen: Yeah.

Vu Tran: Right. Before I get to audience questions I do want to ask you about the book you’re writing, you’re working on now. Or at least the one book. I don’t know if you’re working on multiple projects. But it’s a sequel to The Sympathizer. You’re calling it The Committed.

Viet Nguyen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Vu Tran: Is that a pretty definite title?

Viet Nguyen: Pretty close.

Vu Tran: Okay. And you’ve been working on it. It takes place in Paris and you’ve been working on it in Paris. And I have a couple questions in terms of how your work in fiction in many ways dramatizes many of the ideas that you worked out in your non fiction works, your critical works. And I wonder how working on The Committed has … have you moved beyond some of those ideas? How have your ideas evolved, especially in light of success of The Sympathizer? And how Paris has affected. Actually living there, working there?

Viet Nguyen: Like many people in this room probably I had very romantic notions of Paris and France, and my wife and I spent seven months there on our honeymoon in 2003. And then France is a part of our heritage. As Vietnamese people we were colonized by the French for 70 or 80 years. So I wanted to confront that heritage.

Viet Nguyen: And The Sympathizer is about a guy who’s half French and half Vietnamese. So The Committed, setting that in Paris was an opportunity to engage with that and deal with a country that has a very different sense of race and difference and cultural than the United States does. And I wanted to challenge myself. And it has been challenging because the experience of the French in regards to all these things, it’s so different than the Americans, and even for the Vietnamese who are in France.

Viet Nguyen: I go to France and I’m like racism, racism, racism. That’s not racist. They’re just being stupid. And the Vietnamese people here are doing great. We’re so well adjusted. It’s very hard for me to wrap my American mind.

Vu Tran: These are French saying this, or Vietnamese French?

Viet Nguyen: French people of Vietnamese descent. Okay, so they wouldn’t say French Vietnamese or Vietnamese French. They don’t have hybrid identities supposedly. So it’s a learning experience for me to try to figure out how to acknowledge the legitimacy of these French perspectives, and yet also be critical. I can’t help but be critical you know. So the narrative is partly about that. It’s mostly about drugs and sex and violence in Paris in the early 1980’s and politics. But underlying all of that there is also-

Vu Tran: But do you ever find yourself, have you found yourself questioning your own stance on certain things because of these Vietnamese in Paris and their kind of casual reaction to racism?

Viet Nguyen: I have. Because we’re Americans. We’re very used to how the American system of differences work here, right?

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: And it’s a system that gives us opportunities but also gives us traps. So I knew, I don’t back away from being Vietnamese as a writer. I say I’m a writer, but I also say I’m a minority writer, I’m a Vietnamese writer. I’m all these kinds of things. But I also knew that the way by which I am perceived in this country is through being Vietnamese, and that the way to tell my story … The story that people expected me to tell would be about Vietnam or the Vietnam War. And that’s true for all minorities in this country. We’re only allowed one historical experience that the rest of the country knows about. That’s the opportunity, and it’s also the trap. Because then you’re like oh he’s Vietnamese. He’s going to write about the Vietnam War.

Viet Nguyen: And so what I had to do there was simply to take up that opportunity but to do it on my own terms.

Vu Tran: Yeah.

Viet Nguyen: Okay. So in France the difference would be that at least the French would say that is a total trap.

Vu Tran: Right.

Viet Nguyen: To be stuck on your own difference. You should instead try to be universal. Tell the universal story. And I personally think The Sympathizer, for example, is a universal story. But it’s read through a Vietnamese history here. So I have to look at France and think would I be different if I was there? Would I actually simply be French? Would that be a possibility? Do the French have something that we don’t? Is it actually true that race is not such a big deal there, etc? Personally I don’t think so, but I understand why they think that way and I want to acknowledge that in the book, but also show how it’s also really limited by the French experience as well.

Vu Tran: Yeah. Well people don’t realize sometimes is that the universal is actually very specific.

Viet Nguyen: Exactly.

Vu Tran: But yeah. It’s not about getting everyone to recognize themselves. It’s about being specific enough so that it resonates. We should have time for audience questions.

Matt: Sorry, this is … I’m Matt again. So I think your topic’s really interesting. Because we were talking about this earlier, during the tour that I’m from, the north midwest. And part of my family, I have several members that came back from Vietnam with great uncles. And so you’re kind of talking about this identity, but they kind of did the opposite. They assimilated in a very, very, very non diverse culture.

Matt: So I don’t know when you see people who do that if you have certain views? Or is that anti your own culture, or is that appropriate? Just wanted to get your thoughts on that.

Viet Nguyen: You’re talking about so they’re not white.

Matt: Right.

Viet Nguyen: They’re-

Matt: They came back from Vietnam.

Viet Nguyen: Okay.

Matt: But rather than hold on to any of their culture, they completely gave it up to become completely American and mirror the small communities they’re in.

Viet Nguyen: Right. You know, it’s hard for me to say because I had the luxury of growing up in California, which is obviously much more diverse than North Dakota. And San Jose is the second largest Vietnamese population in the United States. So if I was in that situation and I was like the one Vietnamese person or one of the handful of Vietnamese people in that environment, or any kind of minority that you’re talking about, that’s a survival strategy to do that.

Viet Nguyen: It can’t come without costs though, at the same time. I’ve met more second generation Vietnamese Americans who’ve emerged out of those circumstances and they migrated to the bigger city or more diverse state. And usually they’re pretty regretful that they were raised in that kind of environment where their history and their specificity was denied to them.

Viet Nguyen: When the situation that you’re talking about looks a lot more like France. Because most of the Vietnamese I’ve met there are like well we ended up in a place where there was no other Vietnamese people. So we had no choice but to assimilate. They were okay with that because that’s the only option that they really had. And then they became assimilated, functional members of French society and everything like that. But at the price, if it is a price, of not feeling comfortable associating with other Vietnamese or Asian people.

Viet Nguyen: I would see that as a cost. That wouldn’t necessarily be the case in France or in North Dakota if people never left. So in other words I don’t have … I don’t want to have a judgment about people who don’t have any other option.

Matt: Right.

Viet Nguyen: When they’re put in that situation.

Matt: Makes sense. [inaudible 00:46:21]. That makes sense.

Viet Nguyen: But the culture that we do share though is something like Hollywood. We all have Hollywood right? So that’s what narrative scarcity and narrative plentitude is about. Like you could be the only Vietnamese person in North Dakota or that particular city, and if you don’t see yourself at all in mainstream culture, you’re encouraged to forget your differences. But what if that mainstream culture was different?

Viet Nguyen: You could still be the only Vietnamese person in that particular place, but if you had access to all these books and all these movies and so on, all these stories, it would completely change your perception of who you are out there.

Helson: Hi there. Excuse me. Thank you for coming and joining us. My name is Helson. My question is so I’m Cuban. I was born on the island. I grew up in Miami, which is basically Cuba. But outside of that area in Miami, what I come across in conversations when I meet someone and they figure out, or I tell them that I’m Cuban is older generations immediately think of Cold War, communism. Younger generations just go immediately to tourism, food maybe. I’m just curious as seeing parallel situations between Vietnam, maybe in a more, for lack of a better word, a violent history with the US, but kind of similar with communism and the struggles they had there, do you find a more nuanced conversation when you meet people when you talk about Vietnam? Or is it basically sticking to what older generations think about Vietnam and what younger generations think about Vietnamese food or going to visit like the Vietnamese part of the neighborhood and eating banh mi or whatever it might be?

Viet Nguyen: It’s a big country, so there’s so many different experiences that people have. So when I go to speak to college campuses it’s a very different experience than going to Palm Springs and speaking to retirement community, or going to Idaho which is like 87 or 89% white. So I can sort of feel the differences there in terms of responses. So when I’m on a college campus and the people are young and they’re diverse, and they’re obviously being college educated, the level of responses is really different because they already know about pho and banh mi and all of this, and they’re hungry for these more nuanced statements about what American is and what our stories should be, for example.

Viet Nguyen: If I go to Palm Springs, use that example, and the average age is like 60 or 70 in the audience, it’s a totally different experience. It is more like what you’re talking about. The notions of awareness, of the stories that we’re talking about is much more limited.

Viet Nguyen: So for example, I went to Palm Springs. First question from the audience was, and this was several months ago, have you seen that new Ken Burns documentary about the Vietnam War. Okay. And in my mind I’m like that’s an 18 hour documentary. I don’t have 18 hours. And if you have 18 hours to watch a documentary, you have enough time to read a book by a Vietnamese person. Because whoever asked me that question, whatever that question came up in audiences like that, they had never read a book by a Vietnamese person, or seen a movie from a Vietnamese point of view.

Viet Nguyen: So it’s such a radically different set of experiences from one end of the country to the next. I went to Clemson University. First question from the audience was a guy who literally looked like he was a Confederate veteran. And it was about the Confederacy, which had nothing to do with my talk.

Viet Nguyen: So that’s the beauty and the challenge of a country like this, is that you have people who know exactly what you’re talking about, and you have people who have no idea what you’re talking about. And again, that’s what we’re doing with trying to expand our stories and our narratives, is eventually get to all these different people, but also especially to the next generation as well.

Moderator: Hi, thank you so much for speaking. As a Nigerian, a person who was born in Nigeria, I can definitely hear my story and my parental experience reflected in a lot of what you say, although Nigerians are a bit more invisible in the sense of how we blend into American society. But what I hear a lot about writing from you is this idea of the need for vulnerability. So in order to really tell the story that you want to tell, in your books, you have to face the idea that you’re not necessarily going to talk about the Vietnamese experience in a way that people expect.

Moderator: So I just want to know what influences did you have as far as books that you read, experiences that you had, that allowed you to step fully into that state of vulnerability as a writer, young, and then moving through your career that kind of shaped the way you thought about these are the stories that I’m going to tell regardless of what people think that I should be talking about, or what they’re gonna try to engage me on even though it has nothing to do with my book or the talk that I came to give?

Viet Nguyen: You know, one of my writing instructors when I was in college, Byron T. Luthergy, read one of my short stories and he said, “You’re not cutting close enough to the bone.” I was like 19 or 20. I was like what does that mean? If it literally means cutting to the bone I can do that. Taking a knife to cut yourself is okay. Most writers would do that. If you could get a good story by cutting yourself you would totally do it alright.

Viet Nguyen: But what she meant was that I wasn’t getting vulnerable enough. I wasn’t going deep enough inside. That’s really hard to do because I think most of us don’t want to do that. We’ve built up these protections against the things that have hurt us, the things that make us most vulnerable, in order to function.

Viet Nguyen: And I didn’t know how to do that, as a person or as a writer. You asked for a list of books and I can give you a ton. All great books are about writers getting vulnerable, whether they’re autobiography or now. You may not see the mechanism in operation. I don’t know if you feel this way, but to be a writer you have to be vulnerable to yourself.

Viet Nguyen: Because the experience that matters the most is not like going out there and chopping lumber or working in a nail salon or whatever, going to war to accumulate experience. The most important experience is your emotional experience. That’s what you draw from in order to imbue feeling into your work. So Toni Morrison let’s say writes Beloved. She was not a slave, right. She somehow had to find those emotions within herself. So I don’t know what emotional journey she undertook.

Viet Nguyen: In my case the stories that I had to confront were not the stories in books, although I read a lot of those. The story I had to confront was my own, come from my own family’s refugee experience, came from my own refugee experience, stuff that I had lived through, that we had lived through, that I had just, I’d never forgotten them. But I’d sort of steeled them off and not felt those emotions. That was difficult to go back there and to look at those experiences.

Viet Nguyen: And there’s no one who can teach you how to do that except maybe your therapist. But in my case thank god I never saw a therapist. I had to do it through my writing instead. So hopefully that answers the question.

Moderator: We have one final question.

Andy Wien: Hi. I have a question in 20 parts, so this is great. So my name is Andy Wien. I’m a first generation Vietnamese American born here in Chicago. And I actually wanted to talk to both of you about your view of ethnic enclaves I’ll call them. So growing up in Chicago, I actually didn’t grow up in Argyle. Or Vietnamese people call it Argi. Like that’s where the Vietnamese area is.

Viet Nguyen: Chicago.

Andy Wien: That’s true. Chicago. And so I grew up kind of away from it. So we would come here and be like wow there’s like 1,000 Vietnamese people, so cool and then when I was 18 or 20 something I went to Westminster and I was blown away. It was like Vietnamese flags everywhere. I thought I was in Vietnam frankly. So I wanted to get your POV because actually I’m torn. Because there is the power of having all the people in one place. But that also breeds different types of prejudices, right.

Andy Wien: There are areas in Vietnamese towns where there’s just a lot of prejudice in the area. So I was gonna say, what do you think the balance is? My wife and I, we went to Paris and there is different types of, you know you don’t really see these Vietnamese people all in one place because they have a different sense to identity. So just your POV would be great.

Vu Tran: I can only speak for myself. I feel like I have to constantly fight the need to be special. Because I grew up in Oklahoma. I was the only Vietnamese person I ever saw. And yes that comes with feeling like an outsider and feeling alienated. But also I always had a feeling of specialness too if that makes sense. And when you start engaging with, when I start engaging with Vietnamese communities, I have to fight that urge, that desire to be special. And made me try to break down what that actually means and why I felt a need to have it.

Vu Tran: And what was the cost of that? That’s been my experience with that. I’m only now engaging more with the Vietnamese community. And it’s brought perspectives to me that I’ve never had. I’m 43. It’s very meaningful to me, but I’m still fighting that need to be the only Asian person in the room, which is weird that I would even want that.

Viet Nguyen: Well to pick up on one element of what you said Andy, maybe the implication of what you’re saying. Vietnamese people can be racist too. As a matter of fact, we’re pretty racist okay.

Vu Tran: Very much so.

Viet Nguyen: I’m just judging from the comments that I hear in Vietnamese in the Vietnamese language communities and so on. The casual racism. The deeply embedded prejudices that people have. What it goes to show, is it doesn’t matter if you’re a minority. Just because you’ve been the victim of racism doesn’t mean you can’t be a racist yourself. And as a matter of fact, often times you are racist yourself. These are the unfortunate dynamics of human experience.

Viet Nguyen: And what that meant for me, both as a writer, but also as someone who’s Vietnamese and someone who thinks about politics and political stories, is that my commitment as a writer is two fold. One is that is is certainly to the Vietnamese community and to tell our stories and all that kind of thing. But the second obligation is to truth and justice. You know these grand words. And if your community is doing something wrong, you need to stand up against it.

Viet Nguyen: That’s the role of the writer. The role of the writer is complex. It’s both to represent, but it’s also to oppose. And again, the dynamics of being a minority in this country, or any country, often times is you feel simply the desire to represent. Like we’ve been misrepresented. There’s not been enough representation, therefore we have to represent.

Viet Nguyen: But again, if your community is doing something wrong, you have to represent that. Now that is the real challenge I think. And if we think of ourselves as Americans, many American writers do not go out there thinking we have to represent American. That’s not the first thing that most American writers or artists are thinking about. They’re thinking my first obligation is to the art, and then it’s for the truth and justice. And it’s often times in opposition to American itself. Either American in terms of what it’s doing overseas, or what’s happening, wrong in our country today whatever that happens to be.

Viet Nguyen: That’s what it means to be a part of the majority. And that’s also, if you’re a minority writer, that’s what you have to do as well. You cannot feel that your first obligation is only to your ethnicity or your culture or something like that. That’s part of it. But the first obligations are to your principles. Your art, truth, justice, things like that.

Viet Nguyen: And so that’s part of I think what’s gonna happen with something like Vietnamese American writing and so on. That they have to depict those kinds of things. They have to depict both the beauty of Little Saigon, but also of course the fact that it’s a deeply, it’s almost a fascistic community out there. You step out of line they will get in your face and make sure you don’t say another word.

Viet Nguyen: Thank you very much Google.

Vu Tran: [inaudible 00:59:20].

Viet Nguyen: You too.


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