Pulitzer Prize Winner and MacArthur Fellow Viet Thanh Nguyen Visits UMass Amherst for 2017 Troy Lecture
By Sarah Gibbons | Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
On November 15, acclaimed author, 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner, 2017 Guggenheim Fellow, and 2017 MacArthur Fellow Viet Thanh Nguyen will deliver a talk titled “War, Fiction, and the Ethics of Memory” at the University of Massachusetts Amherst at 4:30 pm in the Student Union Ballroom. The Department of English at UMass Amherst is delighted to bring Professor Nguyen to campus for its annual Troy Lecture on the Humanities and Public Life.
Professor Nguyen is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. Nguyen’s best-selling 2015 novel, The Sympathizer, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (among many other awards), and his 2016 book, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, was a finalist for the National Book Award in non-fiction. In addition, Nguyen is the author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (2002) as well as The Refugees, a best-selling recent collection of short stories. Nguyen also writes for the New York Times, Time, the Guardian, The Atlantic, and the Los Angeles Times, where he is a critic at large.
Professor Nguyen’s fiction and nonfiction is especially timely in helping us rethink blind spots in debates around wars and the refugees left in their wake, not least in the case of the Vietnam War and its lasting significance. As Nguyen argues in a recent New York Times essay, ignorance about the Vietnam War “continues today, both in terms of what Americans continue to ignore about Vietnam and what Americans refuse to know about the Middle East.” Such considerations, moreover, prompt a rethinking of American identity. As Professor Nguyen proclaims in another recent essay, “I am a refugee, an American, and a human being, which is important to proclaim, as there are many who think these identities cannot be reconciled.”
Professor Nguyen carries on the legacy of eminent speakers to visit UMass Amherst in the Troy Lecture series. Previous Troy lecturers have included Nadine Gordimer, Sherman Alexie, Margaret Atwood, Judith Butler, J.M. Coetzee, Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Orhan Pamuk, Zadie Smith, and Wole Soyinka. The Troy Lecture honors Frederick S. (Barney) Troy, who was a Professor of English, an Honorary Professor of the University, and a former UMass trustee.