When Viet Thanh Nguyen sat down to pen “The Sympathizer,” his debut novel about a Vietnamese spy who flees wartime Saigon, Nguyen channeled his own experience as an immigrant. He says exploring that “feeling between two worlds” was central to his writing process. The book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in April. He joins us in-studio to talk about literature’s top prize, life as a refugee and the role that marginalization and resistance play
in his work.

San Jose Native Viet Thanh Nguyen Wins Pulitzer Prize for ‘The Sympathizer’ 5 May,2016carlosg

Viet Thanh Nguyen, author, "The Sympathizer" and "Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War; associate professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California

  • Another Mike

    We learn today from the author that 58,000 dead Americans and 1.3 million Vietnamese accepted as immigrants are somehow not enough for the Vietnamese, who graciously refrain from pointing out how America fell short.
    Give me a break.

  • Another Mike

    One group who has been voiceless up to now is that of the ethnic Chinese, resident in Vietnam for generations, now scattered about the globe. Are they represented in this book?

  • Ben Rawner

    Has your guest noticed different perspectives of those Vietnamese that came to the US as refugees versus those who have come here as immigrants?

    Has there been any type of movement to go back to Vietnam akin to going back to Africa by African-Americans?

  • stanley flemmings

    Hi Gentlemen. I am a Vietnam Veteran. Do you have an opinion concerning the Black person’s ideology in America? When I was in Vietnam, as a soldier, three young Vietnamese women approached me a said, ‘Get out G.I.! We don’t want you here! Go home!’ I still have uncomfortable feelings about it.

    • The Confider

      perhaps you should consider: how would YOU feel if the Vietnamese military took over your American hometown?

    • Chu Ngo

      I’m very sorry to hear about your confrontation but not everyone was like that back then. My mother told me she and my father were different. They welcomed the American soldiers into their home and some were his close friends. My father was a great mechanic who worked along side with the American soldiers. For that, I am very proud of him. I was only ten months old when my father was murdered so that is about the only history I have to share. Just keep in mind that some Vietnamese back then were uneducated, scared, and have no knowledge of why you were there (or simply on the wrong side). I thank you for your service and apologize on their behalf.

  • Robert Thomas

    How does Mr Nguyen apprehend such U.S. critics as Neil Sheehan in his devastating, Pulitzer winning – though certainly told from an American perspective – A Bright Shining Lie – John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam?

    Any American interested in the history of the American war in Vietnam should read this book.

  • Noelle

    I really like his defense of the humanities/ethnic studies in colleges!

  • Another Mike

    At first, McCain was an unprivileged enemy combatant, because the US had not declared war on North Vietnam, and there were no provisions under international law for a third party interfering in a civil war. US diplomats were eventually able to persuade NVN to provide our POWs the protections of the Geneva Conventions however.

  • Niketana

    When a couple of older Vietnamese refugees-immigrants told me that they hated Ho Chi Minh and wanted the ongoing support of the USA (our supplies if not our soldiers), they certainly complicated my long-standing unqualified opposition to the war. But theirs is just one perspective; it doesn’t include that of villagers and farmers in the middle of the country, who were pulled back & forth, one side then the other.

  • Demi Nguyen

    Great program!!!

  • Robert Thomas

    On second listen, I’m struck by the distinctly sophomoric aspect of Mr Nguyen’s world view. No one can deny that U.S. meddling in other people’s business has for over a century since the Spanish American War at least occasionally infringed on genuine imperialism, though most often of the crass, mercantilist American flavor rather than of the deity-anointed European style.

    But the idea that the hypocritical, boozy, narcissistic Salafist pricks who murdered thousands of people on September 11 were in any way justified in incinerating American civilians rather than targeting the debauched, corrupt, inbred wastes of oxygen who operate the Arabian peninsula and who were already well practiced at selling their dainty favors to Western powers long before they fell over themselves into prostration before Aramco, is a comical nonsense that no conceivable “long view” can exculpate. These noble latter, of course, were at least tangentially beneficent toward their well-fed, homicidal theocratic vassals as long as these thugs promised to police any possibility of the Arabian people’s attempt at intercession between their decrepit, dissipated royal clique and its money.

    However ineptly America responded to the unwise decision by the vicious vandals of Bamyan to hospital its mortal enemies, every Afghani still breathing owes each living moment to the degree to which the U.S. has become tender toward its martial foes, in the comparatively short period between the firebombing of Tokyo in March of 1945 (100,000 civilians, at least, dead in one night) and the present day.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor