Vietnamese man in suit next to three books he wrote.

Talk: “Enduring Wars in Transpacific Memories” by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Part of the Mortenson Center Distinguished Lecture series

Viet Thanh Nguyen is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. His voice is unique in that he is both a scholar and a creative writer, and his work transcends the traditional boundaries of ethnic studies and area studies. His Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Sympathizer, and his new book of short stories, The Refugees, and other writings and scholarship capture the complexities of conflicts, power, and identity to give rise to a dialogue on what it means to be national, ethnic, multicultural, foreign, international, diaspora, and transnational. Nguyen will explore the conflicts and trauma brought about by war, forced migration, the subsequent resettlement and integration of refugees in a new homeland and the memories that ensue.

Nguyen’s academic, literary writing, and literary criticism with a focus on ethnic and transpacific studies speak to many audiences, whether faculty, students, or the public at large, with interests in cultural studies, information representation, cultural heritage, Asian American and other ethnic studies, English and comparative literature, literary criticism, Global Studies, East Asian and Pacific Studies, amongst others. Through the Vietnamese American journey of war and memory, Nguyen’s work is the medium to understanding forced migration, transpacific studies, identity, and representation.

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer is a New York Times best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Other honors include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, a Gold Medal in First Fiction from the California Book Awards, and the Asian/Pacific American Literature Award from the Asian/Pacific American Librarian Association. His other books include Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction) and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America.

This lecture is presented by the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs and is the 27th Annual Distinguished Lecture. Established in 1990, each year, the Mortenson Center sponsors a distinguished lecture by a renowned international speaker on a topic related to international understanding, intellectual freedom and libraries. This lecture is also cosponsored by the Center for Advanced Study; Center for Global Studies with the support of the US Department of Education; the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory through the Nicholson Gift Fund; the Diversity Committee of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library; and the School of Information Sciences.


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For further information, visit the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs (external link) or call (217) 333-3058.

To request disability-related accommodations for this event, please contact Brian Cudiamat at (217) 244-5586 or (email link).