They will discuss how writers of color are changing the landscape of American literature and challenging the ways the craft of creative writing has been taught. Nguyen and Mura will draw from their own experiences as Asian American writers, critics, teachers and students of literature, and will explore how a more inclusive aesthetics will benefit not just writers but all Americans.
This talk stems in part from Mura’s new book, “A Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity and Narrative Craft in Writing,” and Nguyen’s incisive critique of writers’ workshops in an editorial in The New York Times.
Mura is a Sansei poet, creative nonfiction writer, fiction writer, critic, and playwright. He has taught writing at VONA, the Loft, the Stonecoast MFA Program, the University of Oregon, the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf College, Macalester College, and Hamline University. He also works with the Innocent Classroom, a program designed by African American novelist Alexs Pate to improve teachers’ relationships with students of color.
He has written two memoirs, “Turning Japanese,” which won the Oakland PEN Josephine Miles Book Award and was a New York Times Notable Book, and “Where the Body Meets Memory.” His novel, “Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire,” was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the John Gardner Fiction Prize and Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award.
His four books of poetry are the National Poetry Contest winner “After We Lost Our Way,” “The Colors of Desire,” which won a Carl Sandburg Literary Award, “Angels for the Burning,” and “The Last Incantations.”
Nguyen’s novel “The Sympathizer” is a New York Times bestseller and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Other honors include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, and the Asian/Pacific American Literature Award from the Asian/Pacific American Librarian Association.
His other books are “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War” (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction) and “Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America.” His current book is a bestselling short story collection, “The Refugees.”
Nguyen is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and a professor of English, American studies and ethnicity, and comparative literature at the University of Southern California. Most recently he has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations, and le Prix du meilleur livre étranger (Best Foreign Book in France) for “The Sympathizer.” He is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and the editor of “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.”
For more information on the event, call (213) 228-7000 or visit https://www.lapl.org/branches/central-library.