DC Reads: Vietnamese-American Literature on the Stage and the Page

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DC Reads: Vietnamese-American Literature on the Stage and the Page

A Reading List for Studio Theater's Vietgone

Qui Nguyen is one of many Vietnamese-American artists and authors finding inventive ways—in the form of graphic novels, memoirs, fiction and verse—to recount family history and examine the complicated legacy of the Vietnam War. Studio Theater's current production of his play Vietgone is a comedy that depicts the courtship of two Vietnamese refugees in an Arkansas resettlement camp. Here are some suggestions from the Studio staff for Vietgone audience members as well as D.C. residents reading our current DC Reads book The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
Escaping after the fall of South Vietnam, Thi Bui explores in her debut graphic novel the lasting effects of displacement on her family. About to become a mother herself, Bui writes to empathize with the experience of her own parents. 

Vietnamerica by G.B. Tran 
G.B. Tran’s graphic novel chronicles 50 years of his family’s experience during the Vietnam War and after, as refugees in the United States. Initially distant and indifferent to this history, G.B. finds his own place in their story by uncovering their legacy.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai 
Based on Lai’s personal experience, her first novel, written in verse, details the experience of a young girl emigrating from Vietnam, after the fall of Saigon, to Alabama. Inside Out and Back Again identifies a year of grief, hope and change.

Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen 
In her memoir, Bich Minh Nguyen shares her experience as young Vietnamese girl coming of age in the Midwest, satisfying her craving for American identity through a passion for American food. Her desire for glossy brands over her Buddhist grandmother’s traditional specialties becomes a metaphor for her struggle to fit in. 

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s debut novel fictionalizes events after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. A general of the South Vietnamese Army prepares a list of those who will be given passage on the last flights out of the country. As they begin a new life in Los Angeles, he is unaware that one among them, the unnamed narrator, is reporting their activity to the Viet Cong. Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Nguyen is also the author of the library's DC Reads title The Refugees.