Coeur d'Alene, Friday, October 25
Writer Viet Thanh Nguyen will speak about “Refugee Stories & American Greatness” on October 25
Prize winning writer, Viet Thanh Nguyen, will deliver the IHC’s 16th Annual North Idaho Distinguished Humanities Lecture on Friday, October 25, 7:00 p.m., at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.
The event is made possible in part by major support from Marc and Vicki Brinkmeyer and Idaho Forest Group. The IHC also is grateful for additional critical support for the event from Lewis-Clark State College, North Idaho College, University of Idaho, the Coeur d’Alene Press, and Idaho Public Television.
This event is SOLD OUT. If you have any questions, please contact the IHC at (208) 345-5346. Benefactors are invited to a private pre-event reception with Nguyen at 5:00 p.m. The evening will begin with a no-host reception and silent auction at 6:00 p.m. at the Resort. Dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m., with Nguyen’s talk to follow. Nguyen’s books will be available onsite for signing afterwards.
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. The Pulitzer Prize citation reads, “[The Sympathizer] is a layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a ‘man of two minds’—and two countries, Vietnam and the United States.”
Viet and his family came to the United States as refugees during the Vietnam War in 1975. As he grew up in America, he began to notice that most movies and books about the war focused on Americans while the Vietnamese were silenced and erased. He was inspired by this lack of representation to write about the war from a Vietnamese perspective, globally re-imagining what we thought we knew about the conflict. The New York Times says that his novel, The Sympathizer, “fills a void…giving voice to the previously voiceless while it compels the rest of us to look at the events of forty years ago in a new light.” His voice is refreshing and powerful as he urges readers to examine the legacy of that tumultuous time and its aftermath from a new perspective.
The audacious novel has also been described by The Guardian as having a “Whitman-like multiplicity” as it “reads like the absolute opposite of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.” Viet’s book Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War was a finalist for the National Book Award. Author Ari Kelman praises Nothing Ever Dies saying it, “provides the fullest and best explanation of how the Vietnam War has become so deeply inscribed into national memory.” His newest work, a collection of short stories titled The Refugees, explores questions of immigration, identity, love, and family.
Viet was the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. The MacArthur Foundation noted that Viet’s 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.” Along with teaching at the University of Southern California, he works as a cultural critic-at-large for The Los Angeles Times.
Thanks to support from the Idaho Forest Group and other sponsors, the IHC has been bringing prominent historians, journalists, and novelists to Coeur d’Alene since 2004, including presidential biographer Robert Dallek, western writer Ivan Doig, journalist Susan Orlean, National Book Award-winner Timothy Egan, Civil War historian James McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Anthony Doerr, bestselling novelist Jess Walter, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham, and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Adam Johnson.