Viet Thanh Nguyen: Through the Eyes of a Vietnamese Refugee

In 1975, at the age of four, Viet Thanh Nguyen fled from Vietnam with his family. Like so many others, these refugees from their war-torn country ended up in America. Fortunately, Nguyen is blessed with a stellar command of the written word and has produced two illuminating semi-autobiographical novels. Together they go a long way towards rewriting the narrative of the Vietnam war; a story until now largely written from an American perspective. Nguyen’s novels – first The Sympathizer and its new follow-up The Committed – show America and France through the eyes of a Vietnamese refugee. It is not necessary to have read the first Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to enjoy the second, but both share the same narrator, a communist spy, half-Vietnamese and half-French. Nguyen has created two political, passionately anti-colonial novels that feel perfectly attuned to our times. In this event, which was filmed live at the 2021 Edinburgh International Book Festival, Nguyen joins acclaimed author and lawyer Philippe Sands QC via live link to discuss the real-life events that contributed to his novel, and the ways fiction can challenge perceived real-world truths. 


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