The Mary Ann Shaw Center for Public and Community Service (Shaw Center) administers the Robert B. Menschel Public Service Award. This award was established to honor Robert Menschel and to perpetuate his commitment to the not-for-profit world by supporting undergraduate…
University Lectures Season Begins Tuesday With Author Viet Thanh Nguyen
The University Lectures Spring 2021 season begins Tuesday, Feb. 16, with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen.
The University’s premier speaker series, the University Lectures brings to Syracuse University audience members and the larger public notable guest speakers of exceptional accomplishment who share their diverse global experiences and perspectives. The series was created through, and is supported by, the generosity of alumnus Robert B. Menschel ’51. Media sponsor for the University Lectures is WAER.
The lecture will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following public health guidance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lecture will be virtual and viewable via Zoom webinar. Audience members will be able to submit questions for consideration as part of the experience, time permitting. Those attending should register in advance at lectures.syr.edu to receive the Zoom link. Communication Access Real-Time Translation will be available.
Nguyen will be interviewed by Dana Spiotta, award-winning author and associate professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S). The lecture is co-sponsored by A&S.
Nguyen and his family came to the United States as refugees from Vietnam in 1975. As he grew up, he observed that movies and books about the Vietnam War only focused on Americans. He turned his writing toward lifting the voices and perspectives of the Vietnamese.
His debut novel, “The Sympathizer,” won the Pulitzer Prize (2016), the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. The New York Times says that the novel “fills a void … giving voice to the previously voiceless while it compels the rest of us to look at the events of 40 years ago in a new light.” His follow-up novel, “The Committed,” is due to be published this year.
Nguyen is also the author of “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War,” a finalist for the National Book Award, and “The Refugees,” a collection of short stories. In 2018, he joined with 17 fellow refugee writers to create “The Displaced,” with proceeds supporting the International Rescue Committee.
He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. Nguyen teaches at the University of Southern California and works as a cultural critic-at-large at The Los Angeles Times.
Other lecture guests this season include Misty Copeland, principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater (Feb. 23); Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham, agent for arts and culture (March 17); and Nyle DiMarco, deaf activist and winner of “Dancing with the Stars” and “America’s Next Top Model” (March 23).