A Man of Two Faces: A Memoir, a History, a Memorial
LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
The highly original, blistering, and unconventional memoir by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer, which has now sold over one million copies worldwide
With insight, humor, formal invention, and lyricism, in A Man of Two Faces Viet Thanh Nguyen rewinds the film of his own life. He expands the genre of personal memoir by acknowledging larger stories of refugeehood, colonization, and ideas about Vietnam and America, writing with his trademark sardonic wit and incisive analysis, as well as a deep emotional openness about his life as a father and a son.
At the age of four, Nguyen and his family are forced to flee his hometown of Ban M Thuột and come to the USA as refugees. After being removed from his brother and parents and homed with a family on his own, Nguyen is later allowed to resettle into his own family in suburban San Jos . But there is violence hidden behind the sunny fa ade of what he calls AMERICATM. One Christmas Eve, when Nguyen is nine, while watching cartoons at home, he learns that his parents have been shot while working at their grocery store, the S iG n Mới, a place where he sometimes helps price tins of fruit with a sticker gun. Years later, as a teenager, the blood-stirring drama of the films of the Vietnam War such as Apocalypse Now throw Nguyen into an existential crisis: how can he be both American and Vietnamese, both the killer and the person being killed? When he learns about an adopted sister who has stayed back in Vietnam, and ultimately visits her, he grows to understand just how much his parents have left behind. And as his parents age, he worries increasingly about their comfort and care, and realizes that some of their older wounds are reopening.
Profound in its emotions and brilliant in its thinking about cultural power, A Man of Two Faces explores the necessity of both forgetting and of memory, the promises America so readily makes and breaks, and the exceptional life story of one of the most original and important writers working today.