The story of the nameless, pro-Communist Vietnamese spy and refugee in the US post-Saigon fall of The Sympathizer (Elsinore, 2017) earned him a Pulitzer in 2016, and such a following that it merited a sequel, The Committed. But Viet Thanh Nguyen – and his works -, are much more than that. And many things at the same time. This geniality has already earned him some of the most important recognition in artistic life, and on May 17th he will be in the spotlight at FLAD, for another session of Meet the Author – American Writers Meetings for the Luso-American Development Foundation.
His best known work, The Sympathizer, tells the story of an Invisible Man, in a spy novel that is at the same time a war novel. And an immigration novel. And a novel of ideas, a political novel, a novel about movies and about other novels, as one review of his work described it.
Its author is also multidimensional. At the age of three he fled Vietnam with his family to the USA. War refugee, with some memories, but few, he lived in a camp the first years of his life, the main memories he ended up keeping from his childhood. About the war in Vietnam and about the trauma, he ended up feeling between two dimensions: the memory created by the American-made portrayal of the war and Vietnam; and his own experience and that of his country of birth.
Out of this intersection, of being a refugee in a country that is already his own, came a creative mind that goes far beyond a work that won the Pulitzer Prize and made him known to the world. Viet Thanh Nguyen is also Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity and Chair of English at the University of Southern California, USA, where he frequently addresses issues such as memory, war, and racism.
In addition to The Sympathizer (Elsinore, 2017) and The Comitted (Elsinore, 2021), is the author of the short story book Refugees (Elsinore, 2018) and two works on the issues of memory and race – Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. The Sympathizer is being made into a television series by HBO.
In addition to the vast list of literary awards that his various works have won, Viet Thanh Nguyen was a recipient of one of the world’s most prestigious fellowships, the MacCarthur Fellowship (also known as the ‘genius fellowship’), and the Guggenheim Fellowship.
Meet the Author is an initiative of FLAD, in partnership with PÚBLICO newspaper. The goal is to provide Portuguese readers with close contact with some of the most respected writers in the USA.
The sessions are monthly and open to the general public, free of charge. Os autores convidados são entrevistados pela jornalista Isabel Lucas, também autora de Viagem ao Sonho Americano (Companhia das Letras), na qual ela procura compreender a América através de livros.
The conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen will take place on May 17, at 6:30pm, in FLAD’s auditorium at Rua do Sacramento à Lapa, 21 – Lisbon.
The session is open to the public and admission is free. If you would like to watch, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.