Photo of Viet Thanh Nguyen and book cover of A Man of Two Faces

Viet Thanh Nguyen: A Man of Two Faces (IN PERSON)

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer comes a highly original, blistering, and unconventional memoir. Viet Thanh Nguyen reads from and discusses his new memoir A Man of Two Faces, in which he rewinds the film of his own life with insight, humor, formal invention, and lyricism. Nguyen is joined in conversation by author and professor Vu Tran. Books will be available for purchase and the authors will sign them following the program.

This is an in-person program at the American Writers Museum. This program will also be livestreamed, and you can register for the link to the online broadcast here.

A Man of Two Faces by Viet Thanh Nguyen book coverAbout A Man of Two Faces:

Viet Thanh Nguyen expands the genre of personal memoir in A Man of Two Faces by acknowledging larger stories of refugeehood, colonization, and ideas about Vietnam and America, writing with his trademark sardonic wit and incisive analysis, as well as a deep emotional openness about his life as a father and a son.

At the age of four, Nguyen and his family are forced to flee his hometown of Ban Mê Thuột and come to the USA as refugees. After being removed from his brother and parents and homed with a family on his own, Nguyen is later allowed to resettle into his own family in suburban San José. But there is violence hidden behind the sunny façade of what he calls AMERICA™. One Christmas Eve, when Nguyen is nine, while watching cartoons at home, he learns that his parents have been shot while working at their grocery store, the SàiGòn Mới, a place where he sometimes helps price tins of fruit with a sticker gun. Years later, as a teenager, the blood-stirring drama of the films of the Vietnam War such as Apocalypse Now throw Nguyen into an existential crisis: how can he be both American and Vietnamese, both the killer and the person being killed? When he learns about an adopted sister who has stayed back in Vietnam, and ultimately visits her, he grows to understand just how much his parents have left behind. And as his parents age, he worries increasingly about their comfort and care, and realizes that some of their older wounds are reopening.

Profound in its emotions and brilliant in its thinking about cultural power, A Man of Two Faces explores the necessity of both forgetting and of memory, the promises America so readily makes and breaks, and the exceptional life story of one of the most original and important writers working today.

Praise for A Man of Two Faces:

Named a Most Anticipated Book by the New York TimesWashington PostBoston GlobeTIMELos Angeles TimesGlobe and MailLiterary HubBookpageThe Millions, and Amazon Book Review

“Viet Thanh Nguyen’s A Man of Two Faces is a triumphant memoir that sears through the fog of American amnesia. A vulnerable and scorching mirror to self and to nation, his book explores his family’s ‘epic and quotidian’ struggles as refugees and indicts Hollywood as propaganda that has fed the American war machine and anti-Asian racism. It is a fissured lyric on memory and a clarifying meditation on empire. Every American needs to read this essential book.”
—Cathy Park Hong, author of Minor Feelings, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

“Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen returns with a deeply personal and political memoir that uses the defining moments of his own life to explore his conflicted relationship with America…A witty and scathing look at what it means to be a refugee, an immigrant, and an American in a world that doesn’t see you as you see yourself.”

“Collage may be an apt word to describe this genre-bending memoir from Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur fellow Viet Thanh Nguyen. Weaving together forms that include exquisite prose, verse and photographs, this masterful memoir follows the author and his family from their home country of Vietnam as they resettle in San Jose, including explosive revelations about family, memory and loss.”
—Hannah Bae, Datebook

VIET THANH NGUYEN was born in Vietnam and raised in America. He is the author of The Committed, which continues the story of The Sympathizer, awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, alongside seven other prizes. He is also the author of the short story collection The Refugees; the nonfiction book Nothing Ever Dies, a finalist for the National Book Award; and is the editor of an anthology of refugee writing, The Displaced. He is the Aerol Arnold Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations. He lives in Los Angeles.

VU TRAN is the author of Dragonfish—a New York Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of the Year—as well as a forthcoming novel, Your Origins. His writing has also appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Best American Mystery StoriesPloughsharesVirginia Quarterly, and the New York Times. Born in Vietnam and raised in Oklahoma, Vu received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his PhD from the Black Mountain Institute in Las Vegas, and is also the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and fellowships from the NEA, MacDowell, Yaddo, Bread Loaf, and Sewanee. He teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Chicago, where he is an Associate Professor of Practice in the Arts.

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Oct 23 2023


Central Time
6:00 pm

More Info



American Writers Museum
Chicago, Illinois

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