Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Monday, May 7, 2018 7:30 pm

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

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Literary Arts

Author of The Sympathizer, Nothing Ever Dies, and The Refugees, scholar, and winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Viet Thanh Nguyen deftly lays bare the Vietnamese-American experience across genres.

Jamie Ford, celebrated author of Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, will be our in-conversation partner with Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Rick Simonson of Elliott Bay Book Company sums up the meteoric rise of Viet Thanh Nguyen: “[He] really has pulled off a literary hat trick: brilliant novel (The Sympathizer), brilliant non-fiction study (Nothing Ever Dies)—and now, with The Refugees, a superb, brilliant book of stories.”

Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer is a New York Times best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2016. The Pulitzer Prize Citation called the book “a layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a ‘man of two minds’—and two countries, Vietnam and the United States.”

His second book, the short story collection The Refugees, gives voice to characters between two worlds, their adopted homeland and their country of birth. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a testament to the hardships and hopes of immigration.

Nguyen was born in Buon Me Thuot, Vietnam, and came to the United States as a refugee in 1975 with his family and was initially settled in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, one of four such camps for Vietnamese refugees. From there, his family moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and eventually settled in San José, California, opening one of the first Vietnamese grocery stores in the city. After high school, he briefly attended UC Riverside and UCLA before settling on UC Berkeley, where he graduated with degrees in English and Ethnic Studies. He stayed at Berkeley for a Ph.D. in English, moved to Los Angeles for a teaching position at the University of Southern California, and has been there ever since. He is currently the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

Nguyen’s other honors include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, a Gold Medal in First Fiction from the California Book Awards, and the Asian/Pacific American Literature Award from the Asian/Pacific American Librarian Association. His other books are Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award in Nonfiction and the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction), and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America.

Nguyen is also actively involved with promoting the arts and culture of Vietnamese people in the diaspora through The Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN) and diaCRITICS, DVAN’s blog for which Nguyen is the editor. He is also on the steering committee for USC’s Center for Transpacific Studies, which encourages the study of how cultures, peoples, capital, and ideas flow across the Pacific and between Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific Islands.

Selected Works:

Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (2002)
Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field (Co-editor, 2014)
The Sympathizer (2016)
Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (2017)
The Refugees (2017)


Jamie Ford is the great grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name “Ford,” thus confusing countless generations. His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list and went on to win the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. His work has been translated into 35 languages. His latest novel, Love and Other Consolation Prizes was published September 12, 2017.

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Know Before You Go


Viet Thanh Nguyen will discuss his work, including his most recent books. The event will be followed by a Q&A moderated by author Jamie Ford.



Elliott Bay Book Company will have copies of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s work available for purchase at their table in the lobby.



There will be no book-signing for this event.


Grand Patron & Patron Reception from 6:30–7:15 on the Promenade!

Grand Patron and Patron ticket holders, join us for a chance to meet Viet Thanh Nguyen at the pre-event reception on the Promenade. Ushers will direct you upon arrival. The reception will take place from 6:30–7:15.


Student Ticket Holders

Don’t forget to head to the special door marked “Student” for entry into the auditorium. A valid student ID is required for admission into the event.


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Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Seneca Street exit and move into the left lane. Turn left onto First Avenue and proceed one block. Take the next right (at the Hammering Man sculpture) onto University Street. Continue up the hill two blocks to Third Avenue. Turn left onto Third Avenue. Continue to the next block and turn left onto Union Street. Make the next left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Southbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Denny Way/Downtown exit. Keep right and cross over Denny Way onto Wall Street. Proceed approximately five blocks and turn left onto Second Avenue. Continue south on Second Avenue approximately eight blocks. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Bus
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by bus and light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.


All of our venues have accessible seating and listening devices available. Please contact us at or 206.621.2230 x10 for more details and to let us know you’re coming so we can better accommodate your needs.