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Viet Nguyen

Internationally renowned novelist and critic Viet Thanh Nguyen is the fall 2019 Dan and Maggie Inouye Distinguished Chair in Democratic Ideals. Nguyen will present a keynote lecture on War, Refugees and Storytelling: From Representation to Decolonization on Thursday, September 19, at 7 p.m. in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Orvis Auditorium. The keynote lecture is free and open to the public.

Born in Ban Me Thuot, Viet Nam, Nguyen came to the United States as a refugee in 1975 with his family and grew up in San Jose, California. Holder of an endowed professorship at the University of Southern California, he has become one of the nation’s most acclaimed writers and leading voices on issues of immigration, race, justice and representation.

His novel The Sympathizer (2015) won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and has been translated into many languages. He is also the author of a best-selling short story collection, The Refugees (2017), and scholarly works Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (2016) and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (2002) and the editor of Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field (with Janet Hoskins, 2014) and The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives (2018).

Nguyen is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and also writes regularly for the Washington Post and TIME on a range of urgent contemporary issues facing the nation.

“Viet Thanh Nguyen is one of the most important public intellectuals of our time,” says Peter Arnade, UH Mānoa Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.

Student writing contest

In conjunction with Nguyen’s visit, a student writing contest is being held. UH Mānoa undergraduate and graduate students who are registered in the fall 2019 semester are encouraged to read, study and engage in Nguyen’s work and express their ideas in writing.

An award with a cash prize will be presented to one undergraduate and one graduate student. Nguyen will personally select the winners and will announce them at the keynote lecture.

For more information contact Mari Yoshihara, professor and chair of American studies, at

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