Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Viet Thanh Nguyen is to speak at Purchase College with professor Usha Rungoo as a part of the Durst Distinguished Lecture series.

Purchase College-SUNY will present the highly acclaimed author Viet Thanh Nguyen in Conversation with Purchase Professor Usha Rungoo on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. The program, which is free and open to the public, will be held digitally via Zoom. The event launches the fall season of the Durst Distinguished Lecture Series, a premiere cultural offering featuring the literary world’s leading lights.

Viet Thanh Nguyen is the author of two novels: The Sympathizer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and The Committed. He has also published a bestselling short story collection, The Refugees, and two books of non-fiction, including Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War​, which was a finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction. Mr. Nguyen has received fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the American Council of Learned Societies, among others.

“Nguyen’s literary masterpieces manage what few other books do. They walk the fine line between aesthetic and narrative elegance on the one hand, and political advocacy and social justice on the other, because for Nguyen, both are political acts,” said Usha Rungoo, assistant professor of French and Literature at Purchase College.

She added, “Not only does his work challenge and innovate with respect to Western canonical textuality, but its focus on the human catastrophes engendered by the Vietnam War has universal appeal and is as relevant as ever, in a world still reeling from the Trump presidency and right-wing fascism and where migrant and humanitarian crises are daily​ catalyzed by imperialism.”

Anthony Domestico, Purchase College associate professor of Literature and chair of the Literature Department, commented, “Viet Thanh Nguyen is a gifted novelist and an incisive public intellectual. In both his creative work and his criticism, Nguyen writes with style and force, wrestling with the deepest questions of morality, politics, and history. His writing helps us to better understand where we have been and where we are going.”

To register for the Viet Thanh Nguyen event, please visit:

As a small public college, Purchase is proud to introduce students to the level of expertise provided by the Durst Distinguished Lectures. The roster of current and past Durst Lecturers have won an impressive array of the highest level of literary honors, including National Book Awards, MacArthur Foundation Grants, Pulitzer Prizes, Guggenheim Foundation Fellowships, and Man Booker Prizes for Fiction.

This season of Durst Distinguished Lectures will continue with Tamara Payne on Oct. 21 and Kaitlyn Greenidge on Nov. 9 in virtual programs. Lynda Barry, the leading cartoonist, painter, and writer, will be featured at an in-person and simulcast event on Oct. 28. Ms. Barry was selected as this year’s Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature.

The Durst Distinguished Lecture Series and the Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature are funded by the Roy and Shirley Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature Endowment. The mission of the Durst programs is to infuse the experience and intellect of leading writers into the Purchase community, while providing diverse opportunities for these writers to interact with students and influence campus life.

For more information, please visit:; call 914.251.6550, or email

About Purchase College-SUNY

Purchase College, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) network of 64 universities and colleges, was founded in 1967 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. His aspirations for Purchase were to combine on one campus conservatory training in the visual and performing arts with programs in the liberal arts and sciences. Today, Purchase College-SUNY is a community of students, faculty, and friends where open-minded engagement with the creative process leads to a lifetime of intellectual growth and professional opportunity. For more information about the College, visit

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