Viet Thanh Nguyen and Matthew Salesses Discuss A Man of Two Faces

Thu, May 2 2024
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Central Library, Dweck Center

author talks BPL Presents


Join BPL Presents for a conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen on his memoir, A Man of Two Faces. With insight, humor, formal invention, and lyricism, in A Man of Two Faces Nguyen rewinds the film of his own life. He expands the genre of personal memoir 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.

Books will be available for purchase from Greenlight Bookstore, followed by a signing.


Participants

Viet Thanh Nguyen, photo credit BeBe JacobsViet 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. Photo credit BeBe Jacobs

 

Matthew Salesses, Photo credit Grace SalessesMatthew Salesses is the author of eight books, most recently The Sense of Wonder, the national bestseller Craft in the Real World, and the PEN/Faulkner finalist Disappear Doppelganger Disappear. Photo credit Grace Salesses

 

 

 

BPL Presents programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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Add to My Calendar 05/02/2024 07:00 pm 05/02/2024 08:30 pm America/New_York Viet Thanh Nguyen and Matthew Salesses Discuss A Man of Two Faces

Join BPL Presents for a conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen on his memoir, A Man of Two Faces. With insight, humor, formal invention, and lyricism, in A Man of Two Faces Nguyen rewinds the film of his own life. He expands the genre of personal memoir 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.

Books will be available for purchase from Greenlight Bookstore, followed by a signing.


Participants

Viet Thanh Nguyen, photo credit BeBe JacobsViet 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. Photo credit BeBe Jacobs

 

Matthew Salesses, Photo credit Grace SalessesMatthew Salesses is the author of eight books, most recently The Sense of Wonder, the national bestseller Craft in the Real World, and the PEN/Faulkner finalist Disappear Doppelganger Disappear. Photo credit Grace Salesses

 

 

 

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