Viet Thanh Nguyen with Luis Alberto Urrea
We are thrilled to be presenting this special Seattle and Elliott Bay return, albeit in virtual form by one of the most essential voices in this country’s writing at present, Viet Thanh Nguyen. Here just over a year ago - when people could really go and be places - when he appeared with his son Ellison for their co-created (with Thi Bui and her son Hien-Bui Stafford) children’s book, Chicken of the Sea, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning debut novel, The Sympathizer, other amazing books of short stories and historical reckoning, and an ongoing cultural critic regularly appearing in the New York Times, this online visit is occasioned by the publication of his much-anticipated new novel, The Committed (Grove Press). Yes, this is a sequel to The Sympathizer, albeit one you needn’t read its predecessor to know where you are, our unnamed protagonist having made it out of U.S. predicaments and over to Paris, where he faces yet more.
“The Committed is nothing short of revelatory. As it haunts, bifurcates, and envelops us in its illumination of all that we have failed to notice about the far reaches of colonization, we are also thrilled by its many turns and charms. This book is fierce, and unrelentingly good. Hilarious and subversive, philosophical and hallucinatory, it is much more than a sequel, more like a necessary appendage in a brilliant and expansive anti-colonial body of work, from the twisted and playful mind of the one and only Viet Thanh Nguyen. Bravo.”—Tommy Orange.
“This follow-up to his seminal The Sympathizer is Nguyen at his most ambitious and bold. Fierce in tone, capacious, witty, sharp, and deeply researched, The Committed marks, not just a sequel to its groundbreaking predecessor, but a sum total accumulation of a life devoted to Vietnamese American history and scholarship. This novel, like all daring novels, is a Trojan Horse, whose hidden power is a treatise of global futurity in the aftermath of colonial conquest. It asks questions central both to Vietnamese everywhere—and to our very species: How do we live in the wake of seismic loss and betrayal? And, perhaps even more critically, How do we laugh?”—Ocean Vuong. This book has, and is, so much.
Nguyen will appear in conversation with Luis Alberto Urrea, a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and the best-selling author of 18 books of fiction, nonfiction and poetry. He's been honored with a 2019 Pushcart Prize, an American Academy of Arts & Letters award and an Edgar Award. His most recent book is The House of Broken Angels, a NYTimes Notable Book of the year, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and recently acquired by the Hulu network for a series. His novel Into the Beautiful North is a selection of the NEA Big Reads program. He is a distinguished professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago. His books include The House of Broken Angels (Back Bay Books)
Presented with promotional support from Alliance Française de Seattle.