UK Hosts Evening With MacArthur 'Genius' and Author Viet Thanh Nguyen

By Whitney Hale

Viet Thanh Nguyen. Photo by Matt Meindl.

The University of Kentucky’s Gaines Center for the Humanities and Department of English’s MFA in Creative Writing will welcome to campus 2017 MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant recipient and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen. “An Evening with Viet Thanh Nguyen,” this year’s Bale Boone Symposium in the Humanities, will begin 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the Singletary Center for the Arts Recital Hall. This program is free and open to the public.  

“We are thrilled to host Viet Thanh Nguyen on campus, and we hope the public can join us for what promises to be a deeply engaging reading and commentary,” said Phil Harling, director of the Gaines Center.

Viet Thanh Nguyen is the award-winning novelist behind the black comedy, historical novel and literary thriller “The Sympathizer,” a New York Times best seller and winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His other honors include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, a Gold Medal in First Fiction from the California Book Awards, and the Asian/Pacific American Literature Award from the Asian/Pacific American Librarian Association.

Nguyen is also the author of “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War,” a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction, and “Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America.” He is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and professor of English, American studies and ethnicity, and comparative literature at the University of Southern California.

Nguyen’s current book is the bestselling short story collection “The Refugees” on immigration, identity, love and family. In addition to his MacArthur recognition, he recently was named a recipient of a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation.

While visiting Lexington, Nguyen will take time to meet with students from UK’s Creative Writing MFA program, as well as several Gaines Fellows. "It’s precisely this sort of intimate interaction with a writer of Nguyen’s acclaim that helps make UK such a special place for our graduate and undergraduate students to learn," said Hannah Pittard, associate professor and director of Creative Writing.

Historically, the Bale Boone Symposium brings together the citizens of Lexington, Gaines Fellows and other members of the university community to explore themes and genres in the arts and humanities. In addition to this year’s support from UK’s MFA in Creative Writing program, the symposium is also a recipient of funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities

For more information on “An Evening with Viet Thanh Nguyen,” contact the Gaines Center at 859-257-1537.

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