As this year’s University of North Dakota Writers Conference kicks off with the theme “Citizen,” North Dakota Quarterly invites our readers to a remarkable novel: The Sympathizer, written in 2015 by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Nguyen will participate in a noon panel and give the first public reading of the conference on Wednesday evening, March 22, 2017. If you are in the region, please join us at 12:00 and again at 8:00 in the Memorial Union Ballroom, admission to both events is free.
The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize, and as the Pulitzer Citation nutshells the novel: “A layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a ‘man of two minds’—and two countries, Vietnam and The United States.”
Other reviewers have praised The Sympathizer as an American anti-war novel rising to the level of All Quiet on the Western Front, and as a serious thriller which confronts the moral catastrophes on all fronts of the Vietnam War.
Another remarkable dimension of The Sympathizer is Nguyen’s extended literary riff on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.Nguyen has mentioned this aspect of his work in a couple of interviews, but it has received relatively little mention in the press. Readers familiar with Invisible Man and its literary and political complexity will find in Nguyen’s work a profound engagement with Ellison and questions of American democracy, identity, art and political consciousness.
Our tumultuous times call for deeply intelligent and provocative art; we are very pleased to welcome Viet Thanh Nguyen to UND this week.