Author Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose remarkable Pulitzer-winning debut novel “The Sympathizer” transformed the narrative of the Vietnam War, comes to the Moss Arts Center on Thursday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m. to dig into how stories about Vietnam are told in America.

An Evening with Viet Thanh Nguyen” will be held in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.  Nguyen will hold a book signing in the Grand Lobby following the talk, and his books will be available for purchase.

A refreshing and powerful voice, Nguyen’s writing is elegant and fiercely honest. In “The Sympathizer,” he urges readers to examine the legacy of that tumultuous time during the war and its aftermath from a new perspective. Philip Caputo explains in a New York Times review that the novel “fills a void in the literature, giving voice to the previously voiceless while it compels the rest of us to look at the events of 40 years ago in a new light.”

Nguyen and his family came to the United States as refugees during the Vietnam War in 1975. As he grew up in America, he began to notice that most movies and books about the war focused on Americans, while the Vietnamese were silenced and erased. He was inspired by this lack of representation to write about the war from a Vietnamese perspective, globally reimagining what people thought they knew about the conflict. 

A New York Times best seller, “The Sympathizer” is currently being adapted into an HBO miniseries produced by and co-starring Robert Downey Jr. “The Committed,” Nguyen’s long-awaited follow-up novel to “The Sympathizer,” was published in 2021.


Loading player for

A finalist for the National Book Award, Nguyen’s book “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War” provides a searching exploration, aiming to bring a comprehensive vision of the war into focus. His collection of short stories, “The Refugees,” considers questions of immigration, identity, love, and family. In 2018, Nguyen called on 17 fellow refugee writers from across the globe to shed light on their experiences, and the result is “The Displaced,” a powerful dispatch from the individual lives behind current headlines, with proceeds to support the International Rescue Committee.

Nguyen is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. The MacArthur Foundation noted that his work “not only offers insight into the experiences of refugees past and present, but also poses profound questions about how we might more accurately and conscientiously portray victims and adversaries of other wars.” Along with teaching at the University of Southern California, he works as a cultural critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times.

An Evening with Viet Thanh Nguyen” is co-sponsored by the Department of English Visiting Writers Series with additional support from the Asian Cultural Engagement Center and Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies. It is supported in part by a gift from Ruth Waalkes and Jeffrey Cole.

Related events

In conjunction with his visit to Blacksburg, Nguyen will speak with Virginia Tech students about his path to higher education as part of the Asian Cultural Engagement Center’s learning lunch series. He will also deliver a craft talk for students, faculty, and staff in the Department of English, providing insight into his practice and career as a writer.

Ticket information

Tickets for the performance are $25 for general admission and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

Paid parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Virginia Tech has also partnered with ParkMobile to provide a convenient, contactless electronic payment option for parking, which may be used at any parking meter, campus parking space, or lot with standard F/S, C/G, or R parking.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Jamie Wiggert at least 10 days prior to the event at 540-231-5300 or email during regular business hours.