Viet Nguyen

University Professor, Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity and Comparative Literature
Email Office THH 404D Office Phone (213) 740-3746


Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer is a New York Times best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Other honors include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Literary Excellence from the American Library Association, a California Book Award, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in Fiction from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association. A finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, the PEN Faulkner Award, and an LA Times Book Prize in the Mystery/Thriller category, The Sympathizer made it to over thirty best of the year lists, including those of the New York Times, Publishers Weekly,, Public BooksKirkus Reviews, The Guardian, Library Journal, Flavorwire, and BuzzFeed, among other venues. The foreign rights have been sold to twenty-eight countries. Its sequel, The Committed, is now available.

He is also the author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (Oxford University Press, 2002) and the co-editor of Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field (University of Hawaii Press, 2014). His book Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War from Harvard University Press (2016, foreign rights to five countries), was a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction, and the winner of two book awards: the John G. Cawelti Award for Best Textbook/Primer from the Popular Culture Association/ American Culture Association, and the René Wellek Prize for an outstanding work of comparative literature from the American Comparative Literature Association.

His current book is the bestselling short story collection The Refugees from Grove Press (2017, foreign rights to sixteen countries).

Nguyen is University Professor, Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and American Studies and Ethnicity, as well as a member of the steering committee for the Center for Transpacific Studies. His articles have appeared in numerous journals and books, including PMLA, American Literary History, Western American Literature, positions: east asia cultures critique, The New Centennial Review, Postmodern Culture, the Japanese Journal of American Studies, and Asian American Studies After Critical Mass. Many of his articles can be downloaded here.

He is a MacArthur Fellow (2018-2022), a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Guggenheim Fellow for 2017-2018. He has also been a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies (2011-2012), the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard (2008-2009) and the Fine Arts Work Center (2004-2005). He has also received residencies, fellowships, scholarships and grants from the Luce Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Asian Cultural Council, the James Irvine Foundation, the Huntington Library, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Creative Capital and the Warhol Foundation.

His teaching and service awards include the Mellon Mentoring Award for Faculty Mentoring Graduate Students, the Albert S. Raubenheimer Distinguished Junior Faculty Award for outstanding research, teaching and service, the General Education Teaching Award, and the Resident Faculty of the Year Award. Multimedia has been a key part of his teaching. In a recent course on the American War in Viet Nam, he and his students created An Other War Memorial, which won a grant from the Fund for Innovative Undergraduate Teaching and the USC Provost’s Prize for Teaching with Technology.

In his spare time, he co-directs the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network, edits diaCRITICS, a blog on Vietnamese and diasporic Vietnamese arts and culture, and writes for Time, The Guardian, The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. His next book is the edited anthology The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives (Abrams, 2018, foreign rights to France and Japan).


  • Ph.D. English, UC Berkeley, 5/1997
  • B.A. English, UC Berkeley, 5/1992
  • B.A. Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley, 5/1992
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Associate Professor, University of Southern California, 2003 – 2008
    • Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, 1997 – 2003
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Professor Nguyen’s research interests include war and memory; race and ethnicity; multiculturalism and identity; transnationalism and diaspora; Asian American literature and culture; international and comparative approaches to the Vietnam War; the Vietnamese diaspora; and fiction writing. He has an ongoing interest in multimedia and pedagogy, ever since teaching several multimedia courses at USC and being involved with the Visible Knowledge Project of Georgetown University.

    Research Keywords

    Asian American literature and culture, war and memory, American studies, race and ethnicity in US culture, film studies, multimedia, multimedia literacy project, race and resistance, Vietnam, the Vietnam War, Vietnamese Americans, Southeast Asia, Southeast Asian Americans, race, ethnicity, multiculturalism, identity, transnationalism, diaspora.

  • Contracts and Grants Awarded

    • Center for Transpacific Studies, (Luce Foundation), Janet Hoskins $200,000, 2011-2014
    • Grant for Artistic Innovation, (Center for Cultural Innovation), Viet Nguyen $10,000, 2011-2012
    • An Eye for an Eye: Contemporary Art and the American War in Viet Nam, (Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation), Viet Nguyen $20,000, 2009-2010
    • Memories of the Bad War: Ethnicity and Empathy in Viet Nam, (US-Japan Friendship Commission), Viet Nguyen $7,300, 2006-2007
    • VISIBLE KNOWLEDGE PROJECT, (Georgetown University), Viet Nguyen $75,000, 2000-2006
  • Conference Presentations

    • “Transpacific Studies: Interventions and Intersections” Lecture/Seminar, Hitotsubashi University, Invited, Tokyo, 03/26/2013
    • “Constructing Conversations: Between Asian American Studies and Transpacific Studies” Lecture/Seminar, Seijo University, Invited, Tokyo, 03/19/2013
    • “Just Memory: War and the Ethics of Remembrance” Lecture/Seminar, Nagoya University, Invited, Nagoya, Japan, 03/17/2013
    • “Transpacific Studies: Interventions and Intersections” , Race and Ethnicity in American Literature and Culture: A ReconsiderationKeynote Lecture, Nagoya University, Invited, Nagoya, Japan, 03/16/2013
    • “Refugee Memories and Asian American Critique” , International Conference on Asian American Expressive CultureLecture/Seminar, Chinese American Literature Research Center, Beiji, Beijing, 06/09/2012
    • “Toward a Model of Transpacific Studies” , Transnational American Studies as Theory and Praxis: Chinese and American PerspectivesLecture/Seminar, Tsinghua University, Invited, Beijing, 06/07/2012
    • “Just Memory: War and the Ethics of Remembrance” , Oceanic Archives and Transnational American Studies SymposiumLecture/Seminar, University of Hong Kong, Invited, Hong Kong, 06/04/2012
    • “War, Justice and Asian American Critique” Talk/Oral Presentation, Yonsei University, Invited, Seoul, Korea, 11/21/2011
    • “War and Cultural Studies: Korean Memories of Viet Nam” , English Language and Literature Association of KoreaTalk/Oral Presentation, English Language and Literature Association of Kor, Invited, Onyang, Korea, 11/18/2011
    • “Just Memory: The Afterlife of War” Talk/Oral Presentation, English Department, University of Illinois, Invited, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, 10/28/2011
    • “The New (Not So Asian) American Writers” , Post45 ConferenceTalk/Oral Presentation, Post45 Conference, Invited, Cleveland, OH, 04/30/2011
    • “Remembering the American War in Viet Nam” Talk/Oral Presentation, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Invited, Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, 06/07/2010
    • “Transpacific Crossings: Intersections of Area Studies, Asian Studies, and American Studies” , Asian American Studies in Asia: An International WorkshopTalk/Oral Presentation, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, Invited, Institute of European and American Studies, 06/04/2010
    • “An Eye for an Eye: Art, Memory, and the American War in Viet Nam ” Talk/Oral Presentation, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, Invited, Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, 06/03/2010
    • “Collection, Confrontation, Commemoration: War and the Display of Art” , Association for Asian American Studies ConferenceTalk/Oral Presentation, Association for Asian American Studies, Austin, TX, 04/09/2010
    • “Southeast Asians in the United States, the United States in Southeast Asia: Notes on Field and Method” , Association for Asian American Studies ConferenceTalk/Oral Presentation, Invited, Austin, TX, 04/09/2010
    • “How Do We Tell and Read (Asian American) Stories?” Lecture/Seminar, University of Hannover, Invited, Hannover, Germany, 05/05/2009
    • “Remembering the American War in Viet Nam” Lecture/Seminar, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Invited, Harvard University, 04/15/2009
    • “Asian Diasporas in the United States: On Exiles, Refugees, Transnationals, and Flexible Citizens” , At Home Abroad: Diasporas and Homelands Comparative Perspectives WorkshopTalk/Oral Presentation, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, Invited, Brandeis University, 03/01/2009
    • “Popular Culture and the Art of War ” , TransPOP SymposiumTalk/Oral Presentation, University of California, Berkeley, Invited, Berkeley, California, 02/14/2009
    • “American Studies in an International Frame” , American Literature ColloquiumLecture/Seminar, Harvard University, Invited, Cambridge, MA, 02/11/2009
    • “On the Dead’s Own Terms: Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Visual Culture” , Association for Asian American StudiesTalk/Oral Presentation, Chicago, 04/19/2008
    • “Impossible to Forget, Difficult to Remember: The American War in Viet Nam” , Comparative Literature Symposium on War, Empire and CultureKeynote, Texas Tech University, Invited, Lubbock, TX, 04/11/2008
    • “The Authenticity of the Anonymous” , transPOP: Korea Vietnam RemixTalk/Oral Presentation, ARKO Art Center, Invited, Seoul, South Korea, 01/18/2008
    • “On the Dead’s Own Terms: Dinh Q. Lê’s Secondhand Memories” , I/M/Migration ConferenceTalk/Oral Presentation, Loyola Marymount University, Invited, Los Angeles, CA, 10/30/2007
    • “The Uses of Cosmopolitanism: On War, Empathy, and Narrative” , Multicultural Narratives and Narrative TheoryTalk/Oral Presentation, Project Narrative, Ohio State University, Invited, Columbus, OH, 10/26/2007
    • “Reflections on Race: Japan and the American War in Viet Nam” , American Studies Association ConferenceTalk/Oral Presentation, American Studies Association , Philadelphia, PA, 10/13/2007
    • “The Art of Dinh Q. Lê” Talk/Oral Presentation, Bellevue Arts Museum, Invited, Bellevue, WA, 09/09/2007
    • “A Correct Life” Talk/Oral Presentation, Visions and Voices, University of Southern Califor, Invited, Los Angeles, CA, 07/09/2007
    • “Speaking for the Dead: Viet Nam, the United States, and Memorialization” Talk/Oral Presentation, Center for Pacific and American Studies, Universit, Invited, Tokyo, Japan, 06/19/2007
    • “Speaking for the Dead: Viet Nam, the United States, and Memorialization” Inaugural Lecture, Center for the Study of Peace and Reconciliation, , Invited, Tokyo, Japan, 06/18/2007
    • “Race and Resistance: On Asian American Cultural Politics” Talk/Oral Presentation, Kansai University, Invited, Osaka, Japan, 06/14/2007
    • “Memories of the Bad War: Ethnicity and Empathy in Viet Nam” , Japanese Association of American StudiesTalk/Oral Presentation, Japanese Association of American Studies, Invited, Tokyo, Japan, 06/09/2007
    • “Not Like Going Home: On Ambivalent Returns to the Source” , Look East SymposiumTalk/Oral Presentation, University of Southern California, Invited, Los Angeles, CA, 04/20/2007
    • “Little Shop of Horrors: Harrell Fletcher and the War Remnants Museum” Talk/Oral Presentation, LAX>
    • “Ghostly Stories, Haunted Memories: South Korea and Viet Nam” , American Studies Association ConferenceTalk/Oral Presentation, American Studies Association , Oakland, CA, 10/13/2006
    • “The Limits of Identity: Asian Americans and the American War in Viet Nam” , American Literature Association SymposiumTalk/Oral Presentation, American Literature Association, Invited, San Diego, 09/30/2006
    • “Memories of the Bad War: Viet Nam in the American Imagination” , Multiethnic Alliances Plenary Speech, Center for Black Studies, University of California, Invited, Santa Barbara, CA, 05/13/2006

    Other Presentations

    • “Literary Reading”, Going Beyond Asian/American Tropes: A Poetry and Fiction Reading, San Francisco, CA, 2009-2010
    • “Literary Reading/Inaugural Speaker”, “Arts and Reconciliation” Series, Los Angeles, CA, 2008-2009
    • “Literary Reading”, Scholars Reading, Middlebury, Vermont, 2008-2009
    • “Literary Reading”, Where Art Originates, Palo Alto, CA, 2007-2008
    • “Literary Reading”, Vietnamese American Smithsonian Touring Exhibit, Garden Grove, CA, 2007-2008
  • Book

    • Nguyen, V. T. (2002). Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. Oxford University Press.

    Book Chapter

    • Nguyen, V. T. (2008). The Authenticity of the Anonymous: Popular Culture and the Art of War. pp. 58-67. Seoul: Arko Arts Center, Arts Council Korea: transPOP: Korea Vietnam Remix.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2007). Impossible to Forget, Difficult to Remember: Viet Nam and the Art of Dinh Q. Le. pp. 19-29. Bellevue, WA: A Tapestry of Memories: The Art of Dinh Q. Lê/Bellevue Arts Museum.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2006). Theresa Cha, Dictee. pp. 209-212. Encyclopedia.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2005). Wounded Bodies and the Cold War: Freedom, Materialism, and Revolution in Asian American Literature, 1946-1957 printed in Authority and Identity in Early Asian American Literature. Temple University Press.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2004). What is the Political? American Culture and the Example of Viet Nam printed in Asian American Studies After Critical Mass. pp. 19-39. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2004). Marxism After Ho Chi Minh printed in Collective Action: A Bad Subjects Anthology. pp. // Pluto Press.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2003). How Do We Tell Stories? printed in Engines of Inquiry: Approaches to Teaching, Learning, and Technology in American Culture Studies. pp. 363-396. Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2001). Le Ly Hayslip: A Teaching Guide printed in Resource Guide to Asian American Literature. pp. 66-77. Modern Language Association.

    Book Review

    • Nguyen, V. T. (2007). After the Massacre: Commemoration and Consolation in Ha My and My Lai. Journal of Asian American Studies. pp. 215-218.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2006). Urban Triage: Race and the Fictions of Multiculturalism. Amerasia Journal. 32.1. pp. 136-139.


    • Nguyen, V. T. (2010). War, Memory and the Future. pp. 279-290. Asian American Literary Review.

    Journal Article

    • Nguyen, V. T. (2013). Just Memory: War and the Ethics of Remembrance. American Literary History. Vol. 25 (1), pp. 144-163.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2012). Refugee Memories and Asian American Critique. positions: asia critique. Vol. 20 (3), pp. 911-942.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2009). Remembering War, Dreaming Peace: On Cosmopolitanism, Compassion and Literature. Japanese Journal of American Studies. (20), pp. 1-26. Article link
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2009). Multimedia as Composition: Research, Writing, and Creativity. Academic Commons. Article link
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2008). At Home With Race. PMLA. Vol. 123 (5), pp. 1557-1565.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2007). Seeing Double: The Films of R. Hong-an Truong. Postmodern Culture/University of Virginia Press. Vol. http, pp. // Article link
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2006). Speak of the Dead, Speak of Viet Nam: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Minority Discourse. The New Centennial Review/Michigan State Univ. Press. Vol. volume 6, pp. number 2.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (2000). The Remasculinization of Chinese America: Race, Violence, and the Novel. American Literary History/Duke University Press. pp. p. 130-157.
    • Nguyen, V. T., Chen, T. (2000). Editor’s Introduction. Jouvert: A Journal of Postcolonial Studies/North Carolina State University. Vol. http, pp. Article link
    • Nguyen, V. T. (1999). California, the Pacific Rim, and Asian American Literature. Western American Literature/Western American Literature Association. Vol. (Summer 1999) 159-165
    • Nguyen, V. T. (1997). Representing Reconciliation: Le Ly Hayslip and the Victimized Body. Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique/Duke University Press. pp. p. 605-642.
    • Nguyen, V. T. (1995). The Postcolonial State of Desire: Homosexuality and Transvestitism in Ninotchka Rosca’s State of War. Hitting Critical Mass: A Journal of Asian American Criticism/University of California, Berkeley. pp. p. NA.

    Magazine/Trade Publication

    • Nguyen, V. T.Masticating Adrian Tomine. American Book Review. Vol. 31, pp. 12.
    • Aerol Arnold Chair of English, 2016/07/01-2021/06/30
    • Visiting Senior Research Fellowship, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 2014/05/31-2014/08/31
    • Provost’s Prize for Teaching with Technology, 2012-2013
    • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship Recipient, 2011-2012
    • Luce Foundation Fellow, Asian Cultural Council, 2010-2011
    • Mellon Mentoring Award for Faculty Mentoring Graduate Students, 2010-2011
    • James Irvine Foundation Honorary Fellowship, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, 2008-2009
    • Suzanne Young Marray Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, 2008-2009
    • Residency, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, 2008
    • Alan Collins Scholar, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, 2008/08/13-2008/08/24
    • Fiction Prize, Gulf Coast Journal of Literature and the Arts, 2007
    • Teaching Has No Boundaries Award, 2006
    • Fiction Fellow, Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, 2004-2005
    • Outstanding Research, Teaching, and Service, 2002
    • General Education Teaching Excellence Award, 2001-2002
    • Teaching Award; Resident Faculty of the Year, 1999-2000
    • USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Award, 1999-2000
    • Mellon Foundation Fellow, The Huntington Library, 1999
    • Gamma Sigma Alpha Professor of the Year, 1998-1999
  • Administrative Appointments

    • Director of Graduate Studies, American Studies and Ethnicity, 08/01/2009-07/31/2011
    • Director of Graduate Studies, American Studies and Ethnicity, 2007-2008
    • Director of Undergraduate Studies, English, 08/01/2005-07/31/2008

    Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

    • Founder and Editor of diaCRITICS, a blog on Vietnamese/diasporic cultural politics,,
    • President, Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network,,

    Other Service to the University

    • USC Ambassador ,
    • Co-Director, Center for Transpacific Studies,
  • Editorships and Editorial Boards

    • Board of Directors, Kaya Press”, 05/31/2012 –
    • Editorial Board, American Literary History”, 03/01/2008 –
    • Contributing Editor, Heath Anthology of American Literature, Sixth Edition”, 2007 –
    • Advisory Board, Encyclopedia of Asian American Literature”, 2006 –

    Media, Alumni, and Community Relations

    • President, Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network,