Not to change. Fear Is a Good Motivator for Political Action. Whichever way you arrange my name, it is not a typical American name. It was true that I was born in Vietnam but made in America. It didn’t work. 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. Leave a comment →. When my Vietnamese parents became American citizens, they took the pragmatic route and changed their names to Joseph and Linda. In Starbucks and other coffee shops, my first name is often misspelled by the barista as Biet or Diet. © 1997-2020 Viet Thanh Nguyen All Rights Reserved. We begin at some place like Starbucks, which is itself an unusual name, derived from a character in “Moby Dick,” itself an unusual name. America, Say My Name. Writer. So can all of our names, no matter their origins, be a part of this country. Your email address will not be published. He writes, “All of our names, no matter their origins, [can] be a part of this country. Of course, that raises the question — what exactly is an American name? I did not want anything too typical, like my Catholic baptismal name, Joseph. 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. That, in the end, was the choice I made. Ellison. It was true that I was born in Vietnam but made in America. How about — Troy? Viet. As in “Viet Nam.” Get it? Abolish the conditions of voicelessness instead. Nguyen with his mother in Vietnam, before they left for the U.S. Paul Krugman did explanatory journalism before it was cool, moving from a career as a world-class economist to writing hard-hitting opinion columns.SIGN UP. 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. VIET THANH NGUYEN: Well, when my agent told me I should write a novel, the first thing that came to me was a spy novel and partly it was because it's a genre that I … All American names, if we want them to be. Iowa City, Iowa 52240, (319) 338-5640 or kevin@tuesdayagency.com. Not to translate. Viet Thanh Nguyen, welcome to the program. The Smith part was a good translation, as Nguyen is the most common Vietnamese surname, inherited from a royal dynasty. 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. 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. The dilemma of being caught in between opposing cultures was hardly new and has not gone away, but it was still difficult for me and everyone else who has had to experience it. He writes, “All of our names, no matter their origins, [can] be a part of this country. Love it … So after - what? I tried Troy. Whichever way you arrange my name, it is not a typical American name. Ellison. Monuments Project: Expanding the American Story, Catch Viet at one of these appearances in the coming months and say hello! He asked me what I would say to people struggling to hold on to their names. Paradoxically, I also believed that by keeping my name, I was making a commitment to America. All we have to do is proudly and publicly assert them. Publicly claiming a name is one small way to take what is private, what might be shameful or embarrassing, and change its meaning. Or Joey. In Australia, where many of the refugees went, Nguyen is among the most common surnames. 2, pp. 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. Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram. Or maybe America itself should be my first name, after Amerigo Vespucci, the cartographer whose first name — Americus in Latin — has become a part of all our American identities. I stuck with Viet. 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. In the United States, I have an Americanized version of my name, Viet Thanh Nguyen, with no diacritical marks on it. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. He asked me what I would say to people struggling to hold on to their names. Or Joe. When Viet Thanh Nguyen first broke onto the scene in 2015, he took the literary world by storm. 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. Mine is Viet Thanh Nguyen, although I was born in Vietnam as Nguyen Thanh Viet. My grandfather’s sister is Cong Tang Ton Nu + her first & middle name. Don’t just be a voice for the voiceless. 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. Notify me via e-mail if anyone answers my comment. This is a heavy burden to lay on one’s son, although it is no heavier than the burden placed on me by my parents. Viet Thanh Nguyen, a contributing opinion writer, is the author, most recently, of “The Refugees” and the editor of “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.” He teaches English at the University of Southern California. Recently I visited Phillips Exeter Academy, a once all-white institution founded in 1781 whose population is now about 20 percent Asian. 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 told him that his name was beautiful, that his parents gave it to him out of love. Viet Thanh Nguyen’s most popular book is The Sympathizer. 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. The Smith part was a good translation, as Nguyen is the most common Vietnamese surname, inherited from a royal dynasty. So can all of our names, no matter their origins, be a part of this country. 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. In this collection, Viet Thanh Nguyen begins to assemble one.” Viet is the name of the people, and George is the father of the country. 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. 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. Were these the same people who had told me, repeatedly, that I was “100 percent Vietnamese?”. I render no judgment on people who change their names. All of them a reminder that we change these United States of America one name at a time. Whichever way you arrange my name, it is not a typical American name. I did not want anything too typical, like my Catholic baptismal name, Joseph. And, yes, he was a refugee from Vietnam. I told him that his name was beautiful, that his parents gave it to him out of love. We all make and remake our own selves. Were these the same people who had told me, repeatedly, that I was “100 percent Vietnamese?”. It didn’t work. My parents’ constant reminder that I was 100 percent Vietnamese had worked its magic. That name, or any of the other contenders, seemed alien to me. Never did I do that again. LOS ANGELES — What’s your name? Viet Thanh Nguyen fled Vietnam with his family in 1975 after the fall of Saigon. Written by Bao Phi, illustrated by Thi Bui. 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 I wanted everyone to hear the barista say my name. Mine was Joe. 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. (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. Mr. Nguyen is a novelist and contributing opinion writer. If I were indeed a banana, many other Americans probably just saw the yellow part and not the soft whiteness inside. America, too, is a name. They asked me if I wanted to change my name. In Starbucks and other coffee shops, my first name is often misspelled by the barista as Biet or Diet. 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. Hers was Tina. He is Viet Thanh Nguyen, a writer, professor and the winner of both the MacArthur Genius Fellowship and the Pulitzer Prize for his landmark novel "The Sympathizer." 404D Taper Hall Thanks to Creative Capital / Warhol Foundation for funding this site. USC PAM Event: Southeast Asian Refugee Narratives, December 9, 2020 America, too, is a name. 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 America, Say My Name. Eventually, he stuck with the name his parents gave him. Starbucks and Moby Dick are a part of the American lexicon and mythology. In Australia, where many of the refugees went, Nguyen is among the most common surnames. 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. If I were indeed a banana, many other Americans probably just saw the yellow part and not the soft whiteness inside. I wonder if the Australians have figured out how to pronounce my name in all of its tonal beauty. 67.1K Followers, 678 Following. My parents picked a name that reflected both sides of my family’s heritage. All American names, if we want them to be. I have been tempted to adopt a Starbucks name, as my friend Thuy Vo Dang puts it, to make my life easier. I felt some kind of psychic connection to Vietnam, the country where I was born but that I remembered not at all, having left at age 4. My adolescent self was shocked. Nguyen. 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. Not, in this one instance, to adapt to America. He was 4 when they came to the United States. Or remade. Mine is Viet Thanh Nguyen, although I was born in Vietnam as Nguyen Thanh Viet. Yaseen. 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. A whitewash. Written by Viet Thanh Nguyen and Ellison Nguyen, Illustrated by Thi Bui and Hien Bui-Stafford ... , 2018. When I am in Vietnam, I am Nguyễn Thanh Việt, the Vietnamese sequence with the Vietnamese accent marks. Whichever way you arrange my name, it is not a typical American name. He is also the author of the nonfiction books Nothing Ever Dies and Race and Resistance.The Aerol Arnold Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, he lives in Los Angeles. His novel The Sympathizer won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as five other awards. 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. Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. Chicken of the Sea. Starbucks and Moby Dick are a part of the American lexicon and mythology. Instead, I knew intuitively what I would one day know explicitly: that I would make Americans say my name. We begin at some place like Starbucks, which is itself an unusual name, derived from a character in “Moby Dick,” itself an unusual name. 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. When my Vietnamese parents became American citizens, they took the pragmatic route and changed their names to Joseph and Linda. 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. A complicated name, as all names are, if we trace them back far enough. Viet is the name of the people, and George is the father of the country. 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. The Vietnamese Newspaper Canada. My parents’ constant reminder that I was 100 percent Vietnamese had worked its magic. Here are some tips. * * * The Memory Keepers The autocorrect function on the iPhone certainly thinks so, as I still sometimes get messages — from friends — addressed to Viet Nam. The community celebration offers music, dance, art, speaker series,… (read more), Viet Thanh Nguyen Find their customers, contact information, and details on 582 shipments. Required fields are marked *. Refugee. My grandfather is Buu Hap, my uncles (his sons) are both Vinh’s, his daughters (my aunts and mom) are Cong Huyen Ton Nu + their first & middle name. That name, or any of the other contenders, seemed alien to me. A banana, yellow on the outside, white on the inside. 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. Never did I do that again. See tweets, replies, photos and videos from @viet_t_nguyen Twitter profile. December 5, 2020 Not, in this one instance, to adapt to America. LOS ANGELES — What’s your name? The dilemma of being caught in between opposing cultures was hardly new and has not gone away, but it was still difficult for me and everyone else who has had to experience it. Provide opportunities for networking and internal information activiti es for members and staff in the IT industry sector IT professional area and anyone We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. ICT Committee aims to: 1. Viet Thanh Nguyen has 30 books on Goodreads with 315750 ratings. Viet Thanh Nguyen (Goodreads Author) 0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings. University of Southern California Yaseen. They asked me if I wanted to change my name. Mr. Nguyen is a novelist and contributing opinion writer. Mine is Viet Thanh Nguyen, although I was born in Vietnam as Nguyen Thanh Viet. We all make and remake our own selves. All we have to do is proudly and publicly assert them. After an extensive nominating process, the board chooses the winners from a list of finalists in each category and may additionally give a… (read more), Viet Thanh Nguyen gives a keynote speech at the “Transcendients Community Celebration: Challenging Borders” for the Japanese American Nation Museum The Transcendients Community Celebration: Challenging Borders, a free one-day event, kicks off on Saturday, March 7 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Japanese American National Museum. Los Angeles, CA 90089-0354 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. 1st gen college. Thoi Bao Newspaper - The Vietnamese Newspaper Canada All of them a reminder that we change these United States of America one name at a time. I said it once to a barista and was instantly ashamed of myself. Or maybe America itself should be my first name, after Amerigo Vespucci, the cartographer whose first name — Americus in Latin — has become a part of all our American identities. name my parents gave me felt natural, possibly because my father never ceased telling me, “You are 100% Vietnamese.” By keeping my name, I could be made into an American but not forget that I was born in Vietnam. I have to persist,’ said the author (Photo courtesy of Viet Thanh Nguyen). Viet Thanh Nguyen writes about his experiences with a Vietnamese name in America in this op-ed for New York Times. That name, or any of the other contenders, seemed alien to me. My full name, Thanh Thuy would hardly serve me as well. ... america say my name by. I have been tempted to adopt a Starbucks name, as my friend Thuy Vo Dang puts it, to make my life easier. Capstone, 2017 . The Nib, January 2017. Hers was Tina. That, in the end, was the choice I made. 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. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. Instead, I knew intuitively what I would one day know explicitly: that I would make Americans say my name. Mine is Viet Thanh Nguyen, although I was born in Vietnam as Nguyen Thanh Viet. Her short comics can be found online at The Nib, PEN America, and BOOM California. Precious Time. Not to translate. My adolescent self was shocked. A betrayal, ultimately, of me. I wanted something just a little bit different, like me. I render no judgment on people who change their names. Ellison Nguyen, a name that compressed all of our painful, aspirational history as a country. And here’s our email:letters@nytimes.com. Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. children for how refugees make America great. Viet Thanh Nguyen. Publicly claiming a name is one small way to take what is private, what might be shameful or embarrassing, and change its meaning. Whichever way you arrange my name, it is not a typical American name. Damco Vietnam Co., Ltd. at 108 NGUYEN ANH THU ST HIEP THANH WARD DISTRICT 12 84-835203999. I wanted something just a little bit different, like me. Mine was Joe. Or remade. Mine is Viet Thanh Nguyen, although I was born in Vietnam as Nguyen Thanh Viet. As in “Viet Nam.” Get it? Ellison Nguyen, a name that compressed all of our painful, aspirational history as a country. 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. 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. Whichever way you arrange my name, it is not a typical American name. Or Joey. 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 first name is that of the Vietnamese people, whose patriotic mythology says we have suffered for centuries to be independent and free. It didn’t work. 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. 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 Recently I visited Phillips Exeter Academy, a once all-white institution founded in 1781 whose population is now about 20 percent Asian. 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. He teaches English at the University of Southern California. I said it once to a barista and was instantly ashamed of myself. Posted on March 9, 2019    How about — Troy? Not to change. A betrayal, ultimately, of me. Even when I say my name, I Americanize it, because I do not want to deal with the hassle of explaining myself to Americans. ‘Just because I’m failing, doesn’t mean I should give up. Affirmative action beneficiary. 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. 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. America, Say My Name by Viet Thanh Nguyen New York Times, March 9, 2019. Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. I wanted everyone to hear the barista say my name. My surname is consistently misspelled as Ngyuen or Nyugen — even in publications that publish me. Currently you have JavaScript disabled. Department of English 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. America, Say My Name When writer Viet Thanh Nguyen was younger, he tried on different "typical American" names, encouraged by generations of American tradition. The autocorrect function on the iPhone certainly thinks so, as I still sometimes get messages — from friends — addressed to Viet Nam. I wonder if the Australians have figured out how to pronounce my name in all of its tonal beauty. A big congratulations to Viet Thanh Nguyen, who is joining the Pulitzer Prize Board as its first Asian-American and Vietnamese-American member. As for Bruce, I think George might have been more accurate. 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. Mine is Viet Thanh Nguyen, although I was born in Vietnam as Nguyen Thanh Viet. His novel The Sympathizer won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as five other awards. 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. The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. Or Joe. 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). 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. Your email address will not be published. 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. Viet. My surname is consistently misspelled as Ngyuen or Nyugen — even in publications that publish me. Viet Thanh Nguyen, a contributing opinion writer, is the author, most recently, of “The Refugees” and the editor of “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.” He … A banana, yellow on the outside, white on the inside. 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? Hùynh is my maternal grandfather’s family name. I tried on various names. Of course, that raises the question — what exactly is an American name? Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. Nguyen. I felt some kind of psychic connection to Vietnam, the country where I was born but that I remembered not at all, having left at age 4. As for Bruce, I think George might have been more accurate. My mom gave me Bao as last name initially, but when I got naturalized and married etc., I made it my middle name. Of course, that raises the question — what exactly is an American name? 36-64 “Soup”, anonymous (R) “Second Sight”, Teju Cole Week 4 9/24 9/26 Drafting strategies WORKSHOP: Narrative Essay Peer Review A whitewash. A complicated name, as all names are, if we trace them back far enough. I tried on various names. Diversity of letters to the United States of America one name at a time I visited Phillips Academy. 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