Literary star Viet Thanh Nguyen on the roots of identity politics


By offering up a new perspective on US and French imperialism, Viet Thanh Nguyen has become a literary star.

But the Pulitzer-winning author insists that reducing everything to identity politics misses the point about the horrors of the past, and how to move forward.

“I’m often called a Vietnamese-American writer, which I don’t have a problem with,” Nguyen told AFP.

“But I do have a problem with it when other writers are just called ‘writers’.

“My books are not only speaking about Vietnamese issues. They are speaking about France, the US, and global issues like colonialism, racism and imperialism.”

Nguyen won international acclaim for his million-selling 2015 novel “The Sympathizer” about a half-Vietnamese, half-French double agent during the Vietnam War, who later remains embedded among exiles in the United States.

He has followed it with a sequel, “The Committed”, which follows the same character to France where he confronts discrimination and his own…

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