PEN World Voices: Viet Thanh Nguyen and Chinelo Okparanta
Thursday May 4, 2017
Winner of our 2015 First Novel Prize and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer, The Refugees) joins Lambda Award and O. Henry Prize-winner Chinelo Okparanta (Happiness, Like Water, Under the Udala Trees) for this PEN World Voices Festival event. Interviewing them about how their work intersects with this year's theme, "Gender and Power," is Parul Sehgal, senior editor at The New York Times Book Review.
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer is a New York Times best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. 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. His other books are Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction) and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. He is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. His short story collection, The Refugees, will be published in February 2017 by Grove Press.
Chinelo Okparanta was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She is author of Happiness, Like Water and Under the Udala Trees. A University of Iowa Provost's Postgraduate Visiting Writer in Fiction as well as a Colgate University Olive B. O'Connor Fellow in Fiction, Okparanta received her BS from Pennsylvania State University, her MA from Rutgers University, and her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was one of Granta's six New Voices for 2012 and is a Lambda Award winner for Lesbian Fiction, an O. Henry Short Story Prize winner, a finalist for the Rolex Mentors and Proteges Arts Initiative, a finalist for the Etisalat Prize for Literature, and a finalist for the Caine Prize, among others. Her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.
Parul Seghal is senior editor and a columnist at The New York Times Book Review. Her work has appeared in Slate, Bookforum, The New Yorker, Tin House, and The Literary Review, among other publications, and she was awarded the Nona Balakian Award from the National Book Critics Circle for her criticism. She has spoken at the New School, NYU, Harvard University, Yale Law School, Book Expo America, and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) and is a regular contributor to NPR, NY1’s The Book Reader, and Slate’s Audio Book Club.