Department of Ethnic Studies - College of Letters and Science - University of California, Berkeley

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Ethnic Studies Alumnus, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Wins Pulitzer Prize!

"As an undergrad I studied English and ethnic studies—English, because I loved literature. The reason why I needed ethic studies was during the 1980s and 1990s you were engaging with the canon. And I couldn’t see myself making a life out of that because of I also felt the imperative to make a difference. Ethnic studies revealed to me the possibility that literature could matter in terms of politics and social justice. So I took a lot from Chicano studies and African-American literature and Asian-American literature. Certain people like Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and Maxine Hong Kingston were hugely important to me. In terms of going back to English studies, I go back to theory: Marxism, deconstructionism, queer, theory, all those things came together and formed the bedrock of Nothing Ever Dies. I was trying to figure out for a decade some essential questions: what does it mean to write, as a minority, what does it mean to be scarred by a war?"