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Viet Thanh Nguyen in Conversation with Andrew Lam On October 28, 2017, the Center for Literary Arts of San José State University hosted an evening with MacArthur Fellowship-winning author and scholar Viet Thanh Nguyen, who gave a reading from his Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, The Sympathizer. Afterwards Nguyen was joined on stage at the Hammer Theatre by author and journalist Andrew Lam. Their conversation was followed by a brief question and answer session with the audience. Andrew Lam: I want to preface this by saying that I’ve known him since I was a teenager because I was his brother’s friend. Even back then you were reading Jane Austen and wanted to be a writer. Viet Nguyen: Absolutely AL: And here he is. So when you won the MacArthur genius award a few days ago—at least when the news was announced—Facebook kind of lit up, and people were writing to you. I just want to say on behalf—if I can say I can represent anybody—of the Vietnamese American community, if we can have a group of people to represent—to congratulate you publicly. [Loud applause from the audience.] It’s a lot of money. [Audience laughs.] Vietnamese—we talk about money. Lam and Nguyen simultaneously: We talk about money. VN: I didn’t tell my dad. My dad called me and said, “You won $625,000! People in church told me about it.” So I knew that would be more meaningful for him when Vietnamese people gossip about money. AL: Right. Because it was like, “Oh my god, I know he’s going to win the Nobel Prize next, and how much he’s going to get?” And I had to research, and I’m thinking it is like $1.2 [million]. Dude, that’s also a lot of money, so work on that. VN: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. AL: But I think it’s kind of ironic in the sense that here we are at a time of really troubled history of our contemporary America, while the political

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