“Cam” is a story of hardship and struggles for the dreams of love, social equality, independence and free will of two Vietnamese women. A grandmother journeyed on foot through the war-zoned jungles and mountains of Vietnam with her three young children to reunite with her husband in the 1940s. And a granddaughter started a new life in America in the twenty-first century as a graduate student. They are separated by vast generation and time gaps but share the same challenges and beliefs in life. Aiming high, they ditched ancient traditions, challenged new customs, and made sense of discrimination and confusion of identity. Continue reading →
Who doesn’t know ‘me no say English’! It is broken English. Native English speakers think only new immigrants, older ones, or those with little education speak like that. Well, I can tell you that time has changed to the point you may or may not like it: broken English is a new trend for some educated people.
Borrowing is never an ultimate solution. If you love something so much, create your own. This holds true for the Vietnamese language. Long gone were the days when Vietnamese people had to use Chinese characters to write their spoken language. Modern Vietnamese has been widely used since 1919. Evolved from a history that reflects a mixture of foreign influences that dominated the course of the nation since the earliest days, Vietnamese language uses the Latin alphabet of abc intersected with diacritics (or the accent marks.) Without a doubt, the uniqueness of Vietnamese language lies, among other things, in the diacritics. As a Việt Nam-freak, (e.g., I jealously guard anything Vietnamese) I even think that without diacritics, it is not Vietnamese.
Then I realized that in the past years I had omitted the diacritics in my name without a blink, in my email, Facebook, and miscellaneous online accounts. I started to think. I didn’t have a choice? I was a creature of habits? Or I believed that Vietnamese names with no diacritical marks were a sign of globalization?
1900s – I grew up in a big city, weeds were a rare spectacle. I also grew up in a traditional intellectual Vietnamese family, I would never have anything to do with weeds. Aren’t they associated with farmers?
My ancestors were court mandarins whose background was interlaced with words. Literally, they were in love with words, especially words on the pages. And more especially, words they had actually written with their own hands. Our hands are not for pulling weeds. Continue reading →
Anvi Hoàng: In your book, Race and Resistance, you said that “criticism of Asian American literature reflects the relationship of Asian American intellectuals to Asian America.” What did you mean by that?
Viet Thanh Nguyen: When we talk about the term “Asian America” we’re talking about two things: a whole group of people who live in the United States who are Asian descents, and that’s about 5% of the population right now – that’s many millions of people. It also refers to a group of people who identify or call themselves Asian American. That is a different population because not all the people who are called by this term would think of themselves as Asian American. Continue reading →
Nhi Lieu is such a happy and cheerful academic professor. She laughed more than any professors I’ve met before – great energy to be around. Her research is an important contribution to the understanding of the Vietnamese diasporic community in the U.S., for both scholars in the field and the community itself.
Anvi Hoang: There are a lot of interesting stories in your book. In a nutshell, what is American Dream in Vietnamese about?
Nhi T. Lieu: [Laughed]. It is about a lot of things. It is about the formation of identity of an immigrant/diasporic group. It looks at popular culture and other forms of cultural productions as sites of study. What’s new and interesting about this project is that it looks at this refugee/minority population through a different lens – it looks at everyday life and the ways in which popular culture and things in the everyday affect the social, cultural, political aspects of a community. Continue reading →