Viet Thanh Nguyen

Pulitzer Prize-winning author, MacArthur Genius, refugee advocate

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen

March 14, 2024 at 6PM

Location: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts


“All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.”

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s writing is bold, elegant, and fiercely honest. His remarkable debut novel, The Sympathizer, won the Pulitzer Prize, was a Dayton Literary Peace Prize winner, and made the finalist list for the PEN/Faulkner award. Coming to the US as refugees during the Vietnam War in 1975, he was driven by lack of representation to write about the war from a Vietnamese perspective—globally reimagining what we thought we knew about the conflict.

Now, almost a decade since his groundbreaking novel was published, Viet revisits the developing conversations on the polemic and polarizing narratives facing migrants in the US today with his Phil Lind Initiative talk titled Speaking for an Other. As displaced individuals contend with the physical perils of war, we consider a different conflict that has emerged within the global imaginary: how has storytelling been used by some to build a new sense of community within the United States, while being leveraged by other segments of American society to efface them? With time and memory dislocated, how do narratives have the potential to be wielded as both refuge and subterfuge in the United States of both today and tomorrow?

Viet Thanh Nguyen was a finalist for the National Book Award with Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War. He has published his own collection of short stories, The Refugees, in addition to bringing together 17 fellow refugee writers with The Displaced. His most recent publication is his memoir, A Man of Two Faces. He is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and a Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. Viet works as a cultural critic-at-large for The Los Angeles Times and was awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2017. He lives in LA with his wife and two children.

“One of our great chroniclers of displacement” – The New Yorker


The Phil Lind Initiative is presented by UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs in partnership with the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. Special thanks to East India Carpet.


Tickets for the in-person event available starting Thursday February 1 at 12PM. FREE while quantities last (max 2 per order).



This event will be live streamed. You do not need a ticket to view the live stream, just sign up for the Phil Lind Initiative email list for the live stream link!


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