MISSOULA – The University of Montana will welcome Viet Thanh Nguyen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and recipient of the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Grant as the year’s first speaker in the President’s Lecture Series. Nguyen will present virtually at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4. The lecture is free and open to the public. Participants can register by visiting https://bit.ly/UMNguyen.
In 1975, Nguyen and his family arrived to the United States as refugees during the Vietnam War. Nguyen’s fiction and non-fiction explore themes about the many ways that war stays with displaced people. As a Vietnamese-American novelist, he examines representation in wartime, resilience, the immigrant and refugee experience, identity, love, family, race, resistance and humanizing minorities.
He is the author “The Sympathizer,” a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
Other books include “The Refugees”; “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award; and “The Committed,” a sequel to the “The Sympathizer.” Nguyen also has written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, Time magazine and The Guardian, and his articles have appeared in numerous journals and books.
His most recent book, “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives,” is UM’s Griz Read selection and includes a collection of short stories of first-hand experiences of 17 global refugee writers that has been called by the New York Times “a powerful dispatch from the individual lives behind current headlines.” Proceeds from his book support the International Rescue Committee.
The Griz Read program provides a common connection through a thought-provoking book. All members of the campus community, especially first-year students, are encouraged to read the Griz Read each year.
Erin Saldin, UM assistant professor of English and the Griz Read committee chair, said “The Displaced” is a timely selection for the Griz Read program.
“The Griz Read provides a campus- and community-wide experience, inviting students and community members to engage with an author’s work in a variety of ways in and outside of the classroom,” Saldin said. “We are thrilled to have the chance to hear from Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose work speaks urgently to the moment in which we find ourselves. He and other authors in ‘The Displaced,’ ask us to consider what it means to be members of a global community. We are so excited to hear from him on Nov. 4.”
The MacArthur Foundation, who awarded Nguyen a “Genius Grant” in 2017, noted that his work “not only offers insight into the experiences of refugees past and present, but also poses profound questions about how we might more accurately and conscientiously portray victims and adversaries of other wars.”
Nguyen currently teaches at the University of Southern California as the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and is a professor of English, American studies and ethnicity and comparative literature. He also works as a cultural critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times and is actively involved with promoting the arts and culture of Vietnamese in the diaspora through arts organizations. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.
With his work, Nguyen hopes people consider the “necessity of thinking and feeling from the position from people who are not like them and imagining the perspective of other people an expanded capacity for empathy.”
Contact: Office of the President, UM, 406-243-2734, email@example.com.