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A Refugee and a Storyteller

Pulitzer Prizewinning Author to Address Complexities of Refugee Experience Tonight

By Maryland Today Staff

"The Refugees"

Photos by Stephanie S. Cordle and courtesy of Viet Thanh Nguyen

“The Refugees,” Viet Thanh Nguyen's 2017 short story collection and the 2018-19 First Year Book, will be the centerpiece for discussion at tonight's Arts & Humanities Dean's Lecture at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

Refugees who come to new lands for safety and greater opportunity can encounter different kinds of hardship as well—racism from the majority population, identity crises, family rifts.

Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction author Viet Thanh Nguyen, who fled his native Vietnam as a child, will discuss the dilemmas of displacement at 5:30 p.m. today at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center as part of the Arts & Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series. The lecture is also a component of UMD’s Year of Immigration, which seeks to foster a more inclusive and diverse community and increase awareness about immigration, global migration and refugees.Viet Thanh Nguyen

Nguyen’s 2017 short story collection, “The Refugees,” was named the 2018-19 First Year Book by the Office of Undergraduate Studies. It’s being integrated into courses across disciplines and used as the centerpiece for discussion.

“I look forward to robust discussions about immigration, global migration and refugees, and about how these issues impact our university, the nation and the world,” said William A. Cohen, associate provost and dean for undergraduate studies.

At 10 a.m. tomorrow in Tawes Hall, the author will talk with Michael Collier, director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing. Both events are co-sponsored by the Department of English’s Bebe Koch Petrou Lecture Fund. 

Nguyen, who was born in Vietnam, fled to the United States with his family in 1975 after withdrawal of U.S forces and the fall of Saigon. After moving around the United States, the family settled in Southern California. Now a professor of English, American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California, Thanh focuses in his fiction on the sorrow of displacement and exile while exemplifying themes of homeland, belonging and empathy.

Copies of "The Refugees" will be available to students free of charge at today’s lecture in the Kay Theatre. A reception and book signing will follow the lecture. Admission is free but tickets are required. They can be reserved online or by calling 301.405.ARTS (2787).

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