Not to translate. In this collection, Viet Thanh Nguyen begins to assemble one.” A whitewash. Viet Thanh Nguyen writes about his experiences with a Vietnamese name in America in this op-ed for New York Times. How about — Troy? Yaseen. (R) CT p. 16-29; “America, Say my Name”, Viet Thanh Nguyen + “Speaking in Tongues” p. 32-35, Gloria Anzaldúa Week 3 9/17 9/19 How to Read Critically How to Read Critically (T) Ch. Email, For review copies or bookstore events, contact publicity@groveatlantic.com for The Sympathizer or The Refugees and Margaux Leonard of Harvard University Press for Nothing Ever Dies, Literary, translation, and film rights are handled by Nat Sobel at Sobel Weber Associates, 146 East 19 Street Growing up in the United States, I was encouraged by generations of American tradition to believe that it was normal, desirable and practical to adopt an American first name, and even to change one’s surname to an American one. I claimed for my son an American genealogy that was also an African-American genealogy that, through me and my son, would also be a Vietnamese-American genealogy. We begin at some place like Starbucks, which is itself an unusual name, derived from a character in “Moby Dick,” itself an unusual name. © 1997-2020 Viet Thanh Nguyen All Rights Reserved. Starbucks and Moby Dick are a part of the American lexicon and mythology. Growing up in the United States, I was encouraged by generations of American tradition to believe that it was normal, desirable and practical to adopt an American first name, and even to change one’s surname to an American one. Whichever way you arrange my name, it is not a typical American name. I told him about the name I gave my son, Ellison, whom I named after the novelist Ralph Waldo Ellison, who was named after Ralph Waldo Emerson. We begin at some place like Starbucks, which is itself an unusual name, derived from a character in “Moby Dick,” itself an unusual name. Nguyễn is the most common Vietnamese surname, in part because the Nguyễn dynasty was the last ruling family in Vietnam (but not all Nguyen’s are related in case you’re wondering). Precious Time. This quarter, for UWP 7M (Multilingual Writing), readings with student experience content—as designated in a spreadsheet Ferris provided to The Aggie—include “America, Say My Name” from Viet Thanh Nguyen and “SERU Survey Report: International Students’ Experiences and Concerns During the Pandemic”, conducted by Igor Chirikov and Krista M. Soria. I did not want anything too typical, like my Catholic baptismal name, Joseph. Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. Growing up in the United States, I was encouraged by generations of American tradition to believe that it was normal, desirable and practical to adopt an American first name, and even to change one’s surname to an American one. My surname is consistently misspelled as Ngyuen or Nyugen — even in publications that publish me. Viet Thanh Nguyen, welcome to the program. They asked me if I wanted to change my name. But even if I had already become an American by the time I took my oath of citizenship, I refused to take this step of changing my name. A few sentences into famed author Viet Thanh Nguyen's latest op-ed, some of us will immediately empathize with his struggle: if I don't have a "typical" American name, will I take on a nickname? Mine is Viet Thanh Nguyen, although I was born in Vietnam as Nguyen Thanh Viet. Mine is Viet Thanh Nguyen, although I was born in Vietnam as Nguyen Thanh Viet. So can all of our names, no matter their origins, be a part of this country. I render no judgment on people who change their names. Required fields are marked *. Starbucks and Moby Dick are a part of the American lexicon and mythology. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. As for Bruce, I think George might have been more accurate. Never did I do that again. Leave a comment →. So can all of our names, no matter their origins, be a part of this country. My surname is consistently misspelled as Ngyuen or Nyugen — even in publications that publish me. When my Vietnamese parents became American citizens, they took the pragmatic route and changed their names to Joseph and Linda. Were these the same people who had told me, repeatedly, that I was “100 percent Vietnamese?”. It didn’t work. Whichever way you arrange my name, it is not a typical American name. 1st gen college. Or maybe, instead of contorting myself through translation — which comes from the Latin word meaning to “carry across,” as my parents carried me across the Pacific — I should simply be Viet. Of The Displaced, The Economist says that “If the world’s 65.5 million forcibly displaced people formed their own country, it would be the 21st-largest…one of the many things that this imaginary nation lacks…is a literary canon. LOS ANGELES — What’s your name? As in “Viet Nam.” Get it? It didn’t work. Nguyen. But my younger sister and I doggedly clung to our Vietnamese names despite the family pressure to choose new ones for our post-citizenship life in the U.S. Lucky for my younger sister, whose full name is Kim Xuyen, Kim can seamlessly become her public moniker. There was good reason for me to change my name, for throughout my childhood my classmates had teased me by asking if my last name was Nam. When my Vietnamese parents became American citizens, they took the pragmatic route and changed their names to Joseph and Linda. Los Angeles, CA 90089-0354 New York, New York 10003, (212) 420-8585, To invite Viet to do a reading or lecture, please contact Kevin Mills of the Tuesday Agency, 132 1/2 East Washington In the United States, most Vietnamese-Americans, tired of explaining, simply tell other Americans to say the name as “Win,” leading to many puns about win-win situations. It was true that I was born in Vietnam but made in America. Find their customers, contact information, and details on 582 shipments. Growing up in the United States, I was encouraged by generations of American tradition to believe that it was normal, desirable and practical to adopt an American first name, and even to change one’s surname to an American one. Supplemental Readings "America, Say My Name" by Viet Thanh Nguyen "Behind the Name" Website with many articles about names "The Power Behind Your Name" TedX Talk My Name by Sandra Cisneros, from The House on Mango Street; Saturday Night Live Name University of Southern California He will be presenting on his academic work or, at the literary events, reading from and talking about his most recent books: the novel The Sympathizer (2015), the cultural history Nothing Ever Dies (2016), the short story collection The Refugees (2017), and the children’s book Chicken of the… (read more), Viet Thanh Nguyen joins the Pulitzer Prize board as its first Vietnamese-American member. Currently you have JavaScript disabled. I was hardly reassured when I went on a field trip to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey and a pleasant young white American soldier, dressed in Vietnamese garb and fluent in Vietnamese, translated my Vietnamese name into a kind of American equivalent: Bruce Smith. Publicly claiming a name is one small way to take what is private, what might be shameful or embarrassing, and change its meaning. I have been tempted to adopt a Starbucks name, as my friend Thuy Vo Dang puts it, to make my life easier. children for how refugees make America great. Viet Thanh Nguyen’s most popular book is The Sympathizer. Not to change. Department of English I tried Troy. Recently I visited Phillips Exeter Academy, a once all-white institution founded in 1781 whose population is now about 20 percent Asian. Instead, I knew intuitively what I would one day know explicitly: that I would make Americans say my name. I tried on various names. In front of the entire student body, a student described how he dreaded introducing himself when he was growing up and made up nicknames for himself so that he would not have to explain his name’s pronunciation. A complicated name, as all names are, if we trace them back far enough. Viet Thanh Nguyen has 30 books on Goodreads with 315750 ratings. Your email address will not be published. Viet Thanh Nguyen (Goodreads Author) 0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings. A name that citizens and residents of the United States have taken for themselves, a name that is mythical or maligned around the world, a name that causes endless frustration for all those other Americans, from North to South, from Canada to Chile, who are not a part of the United States. All we have to do is proudly and publicly assert them. His novel The Sympathizer won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as five other awards. 404D Taper Hall Even when I say my name, I Americanize it, because I do not want to deal with the hassle of explaining myself to Americans. We all make and remake our own selves. Eventually, he stuck with the name his parents gave him. And here’s our email:letters@nytimes.com. Paradoxically, I also believed that by keeping my name, I was making a commitment to America. I render no judgment on people who change their names. I wanted everyone to hear the barista say my name. Fear Is a Good Motivator for Political Action. A betrayal, ultimately, of me. I wanted everyone to hear the barista say my name. Mine is Viet Thanh Nguyen, although I was born in Vietnam as Nguyen Thanh Viet. This psychic tie was ironic, because my fellow Vietnamese refugees in San Jose, Calif., of the 1980s — who never called themselves Americans — would describe me as completely Americanized. A betrayal of my parents, even if they had left it open to me to change my name; a betrayal of being Vietnamese, even if many Vietnamese people were ambivalent about me. That name, or any of the other contenders, seemed alien to me. It was true that I was born in Vietnam but made in America. All we have to do is proudly and publicly assert them. I did not want anything too typical, like my Catholic baptismal name, Joseph. America, Say My Name This delightful essay by novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen asks a simple question: “What exactly is an American name?” After trying on Troy as a kid, and adopting a Starbucks nickname, Mr. Nguyen now demands that people call him Viet. In Australia, where many of the refugees went, Nguyen is among the most common surnames. Not to change. My adolescent self was shocked. With her son, Hien, she co-illustrated the children’s book, Chicken of the Sea (McSweeney’s, 2019), written by Pulitzer winner Viet Thanh Nguyen and his son, Ellison. But neither should there be judgment on people who do not change their names, who insist on being themselves, even if their names induce dyslexia on the part of some Americans. This psychic tie was ironic, because my fellow Vietnamese refugees in San Jose, Calif., of the 1980s — who never called themselves Americans — would describe me as completely Americanized. A big congratulations to Viet Thanh Nguyen, who is joining the Pulitzer Prize Board as its first Asian-American and Vietnamese-American member. All of them a reminder that we change these United States of America one name at a time. Mine is Viet Thanh Nguyen, although I was born in Vietnam as Nguyen Thanh Viet. Or Joe. Viet. In the United States, I have an Americanized version of my name, Viet Thanh Nguyen, with no diacritical marks on it. That name, or any of the other contenders, seemed alien to me. ‘Just because I’m failing, doesn’t mean I should give up. The community celebration offers music, dance, art, speaker series,… (read more), Viet Thanh Nguyen 36-64 “Soup”, anonymous (R) “Second Sight”, Teju Cole Week 4 9/24 9/26 Drafting strategies WORKSHOP: Narrative Essay Peer Review But even if I had already become an American by the time I took my oath of citizenship, I refused to take this step of changing my name. I felt, intuitively, that changing my name was a betrayal, as the act of translation itself carries within it the potential for betrayal, of getting things wrong, deliberately or otherwise. Growing up in the United States, I was encouraged by generations of American tradition to believe that it was normal, desirable and practical to adopt an American first name, and even to change one’s surname to an American one. Ellison Nguyen, a name that compressed all of our painful, aspirational history as a country. The autocorrect function on the iPhone certainly thinks so, as I still sometimes get messages — from friends — addressed to Viet Nam.