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Viet Thanh Nguyen: A Man of Two Faces

PBF Pass

November 4, 2023 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Portland’5 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Viet Thanh Nguyen will be joined in conversation with Tommy Orange, author of There There.

This is a special event at Portland Book Festival which requires an add-on ticket to attend.

With insight, humor, formal invention, and lyricism, in A Man of Two Faces Viet Thanh Nguyen rewinds the film of his own life. He expands the genre of personal memoir by acknowledging larger stories of refugeehood, colonization, and ideas about Vietnam and America, writing with his trademark sardonic wit and incisive analysis, as well as a deep emotional openness about his life as a father and a son.

At the age of four, Nguyen and his family are forced to flee his hometown of Ban Mê Thuột and come to the USA as refugees. After being removed from his brother and parents and homed with a family on his own, Nguyen is later allowed to resettle into his own family in suburban San José. But there is violence hidden behind the sunny façade of what he calls AMERICA™. One Christmas Eve, when Nguyen is nine, while watching cartoons at home, he learns that his parents have been shot while working at their grocery store, the SàiGòn Mới, a place where he sometimes helps price tins of fruit with a sticker gun. Years later, as a teenager, the blood-stirring drama of the films of the Vietnam War such as Apocalypse Now throw Nguyen into an existential crisis: how can he be both American and Vietnamese, both the killer and the person being killed? When he learns about an adopted sister who has stayed back in Vietnam, and ultimately visits her, he grows to understand just how much his parents have left behind. And as his parents age, he worries increasingly about their comfort and care, and realizes that some of their older wounds are reopening,

Profound in its emotions and brilliant in its thinking about cultural power, A Man of Two Faces explores the necessity of both forgetting and of memory, the promises America so readily makes and breaks, and the exceptional life story of one of the most original and important writers working today.

Get your General Admission Festival Pass today!


Or, get the full, all-inclusive festival experience. An UMBRELLA PASS includes:

  • Festival General Admission Wristband
  • Friday Night Book Market Entry
  • A Premium Reserved Ticket including a book for Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • A Premium Reserved Ticket including a book for Michael Lewis
  • A $5 Book Market Voucher
  • Literary Arts Tote Bag


Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. He is the author of The Committed, which continues the story of The Sympathizer, awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, alongside seven other prizes. He is also the author of the short story collection The Refugees; the nonfiction book Nothing Ever Dies, a finalist for the National Book Award; and is the editor of an anthology of refugee writing, The Displaced. He is the Aerol Arnold Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations. He lives in Los Angeles. His new book is A Man of Two Faces: A Memoir, A History, A Memorial.

Viet Thanh Nguyen appears in a special event at Portland Book Festival which requires an add-on ticket to attend.

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Tommy Orange

Tommy Orange is the New York Times bestselling author of There There (Alfred A. Knopf) winner of the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. There There was deemed a Top Five Fiction Book of the Year by The New York Times and won the John Leonard Award for Best First Book and the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel. There There was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His next novel, Wandering Stars will be published by Alfred A Knopf in March 2024.

Tommy Orange will be interviewing Viet Thanh Nguyen at the 2023 Portland Book Festival. This is a SPECIAL EVENT WHICH REQUIRES AN ADD-ON TICKET TO ATTEND.

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November 4, 2023
10:00 am - 11:00 am
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Portland’5 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
1037 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97205
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