My latest publication in "College Literature" on Viet Thanh Nguyen's "The Sympathizer"
I am thrilled to announce that my latest article has been published in the winter 2023 edition of College Literature: A Journal of Critical Literary Studies. I first presented the initial ideas for this essay at the 2018 American Literature Association Convention during a panel sponsored by the Circle of Asian American Literary Studies on "Refugee Counternarratives." It is particularly gratifying for me to see this article in print after spending many years developing and fine-tuning its central argument.
Titled "'A Man of Two Faces and Two Minds': Just Memory and Metatextuality in The Sympathizer's Rewriting of the Vietnam War," this essay considers how Viet Thanh Nguyen's Pulitzer Prize-winning debut novel The Sympathizer (2015) represents the history of the Vietnam War from an inclusive lens of remembrance that the author terms "just memory" in his book Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, which was published shortly after The Sympathizer in 2016 and can be read as a scholarly companion to the novel. I argue that The Sympathizer employs several metatextual rhetorical techniques (such as characterizing the narrator as a figure of duality, featuring a nested narrative form, and self-referentially exploring the performativity of writing) in order to denounce the self-serving, one-sided rhetoric of "unjust memory." I show how the novel instead advocates for practicing a more ethical approach to the other that is rooted in recognizing the possibilities and limitations of narrative representation. You can read the abstract and download the full article with institutional access here.
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