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A onetime Vietnamese refugee on the complex road to American greatness

Author Viet Thanh Nguyen at Seattle Public Library
KUOW photo/Sonya Harris
Author Viet Thanh Nguyen at Seattle Public Library

Before Viet Thanh Nguyen became the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the novel “The Sympathizers,” he was a 4-year-old boy uprooted from war-torn Vietnam and transported to a refugee camp in the United States.

Nguyen’s experience as a refugee marked his journey towards becoming an American in crucial ways. He describes the experience of being both a refugee and an American as being “split in two.”

In this recording, Viet Thanh Nguyen reads from his essay “America in Me” and his short story collection “The Refugees,” then takes questions from his audience. Nguyen is a professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

He spoke at the Seattle Public Library on February 24. Sonya Harris recorded the event.

Year started with KUOW: 2006