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One Book, One University: The Refugees


Image of the book cover for The Refugees

As part of the Freshman La Verne Experience, all freshmen will participate in a common reading program in their FLEX Learning Community to help integrate into the broader community of learners at the University of La Verne.  The One Book, One University program promotes reading and the discussion of diverse perspectives as a common intellectual experience, teaches writing as a way of learning through reflection, and encourages civic communication while actively engaged in the world. In particular, the One Book, One University Program integrates La Verne’s four core values into student learning:

  • A values orientation that encourages students to reflect upon personal, professional, and societal values;
  • A respect for diverse communities and the biodiversity of the planet;
  • Active lifelong learning;
  • Engaged community service.

About the Book

Dr. Nguyen is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.

He is the author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (Oxford University Press, 2002) and the novel The Sympathizer, from Grove/Atlantic (2015). The Sympathizer won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, an Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, the Carnegie Medal for  Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, a California Book Award, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in Fiction from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association. It was also a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. The novel made it to over thirty book-of-the-year lists, including The GuardianThe New York Times,  The Wall Street, and The Washington Post. The foreign rights have been sold to twenty-three countries.

Nguyen’s next fiction book, The Refugees, is a collection of perfectly formed stories written over a period of twenty years, exploring questions of immigration, identity, love, and family.  In The Refugees, Nguyen gives voice to lives led between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration.  The second piece of fiction by a major new voice in American letters, The Refugees is a beautifully written and sharply observed book about the aspirations of those who leave one country for another, and the relationships and desires for self-fulfillment that define our lives.

Dr. Nguyen Lecture

Dr. Nguyen  has accepted an invitation to join us on campus on October 4, 2017 for an entire day where he will meet with all first-year students during community-hour in Morgan Auditorium for an interview/discussion of The Refugees (11:45-1:15); an early afternoon keynote lecture and book-signing open to the community (3:30 pm), which will be followed by an invitation only dinner (5:30). The public keynote will be a featured event in the Lyceum @ La Verne Series.

Campus Activities Associated with this year’s selection, (Part of Lyceum @ La Verne Series):

All events associated with this year’s book selection are free.
Fall 2017: October, 4, 2017.
Students & Author: 11:45am-1:15pm
University Community & Author: 3:30pm.
La Verne Campus directions.