Irvine, Calif., Jan. 4, 2017 – Writer Viet Thanh Nguyen will read from his fiction and nonfiction works at the University of California, Irvine at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, kicking off the 2017 Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellows Series.
Nguyen, a Vietnamese American, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for The Sympathizer, a darkly humorous novel about a Communist spy who infiltrates the South Vietnamese army and immigrates with its survivors to America. His mission is to report on the soldiers’ efforts to rebuild their ranks and invade and recapture their homeland.
He is also the author of Race & Resistance: Literature & Politics in Asian America, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam & the Memory of War and The Refugees, a collection of his short stories, which comes out next month.
Born in Vietnam in 1975 and currently teaching English and American studies & ethnicity at the University of Southern California, Nguyen said he feels indebted to everyone who has fought for civil rights, radical power, economic equity and justice in the literary world.
“No minority writer, no writer of color, can claim that he or she accomplished anything purely on their own merit,” he wrote after his Pulitzer notification. “We all owe so much to the collective struggles and activists that preceded us, that laid the foundations for our individual achievement, to everyone lucky enough to be remembered and so many who have been forgotten.”
The Sympathizers was also awarded the Center for Fiction’s 2015 First Novel Prize, the American Library Association’s 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association’s 2015 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in adult fiction.
Launched in 1999 by then-Chancellor Ralph Cicerone, the Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellows Series at UCI comprises free lectures by luminaries in literature, science, culture and politics. Magic Johnson spoke in 2015, and Katherine Boo – an investigative journalist and author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity – appeared in 2016.
The event featuring Nguyen will take place in the UCI Student Center’s Crystal Cove Auditorium. Registration is requested.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.
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