Viet Thanh Nguyen

Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen will talk about his best-selling novel, The Sympathizeron Mar. 21 at 7:00 p.m. in Gasson Hall, Room 100. In addition to the Pulitzer, The Sympathizer has been awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, a Gold Medal in First Fiction from the California Book Awards, and the Asian/Pacific American Literature Award, among other honors. A black comedy, historical novel, and literary thriller, The Sympathizer follows a nameless spy who has infiltrated the South Vietnamese army and flees with its remnants to America. His mission: report on their efforts to continue their lost war. Nguyen’s other books include Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction) and a short story collection, The Refugees. He is a University Professor, the Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and a Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Time, The Guardian, The Atlantic, and other venues. Sponsors: Lowell Humanities Series, Asian American Studies, the English Department, and the Institute for the Liberal Arts. | NPR interview, Late Night with Seth Meyers

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Lessons from Piers Plowman

Higher education has become a polarizing topic in U.S. politics, but the underlying issues—who should be taught, what should be taught, and to what end—stretch back to the Middle Ages, according to Assistant Professor of English Eric Weiskott. In a piece for the Winter issue of Boston College Magazine, Weiskott considers the timeliness of the message in English writer William Langland’s epic poem Piers Plowman. “In the late 14th century, as in the early 21st century, everyday people felt the chasm between the haves and have-nots widening,” writes Weiskott, adding “Langland wondered whether education was living up to its promises.” Weiskott is the author of the book English Alliterative Verse: Poetic Tradition and Literary History (Cambridge University Press). He recently talked about his book in this video from BC Libraries.

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Savage’s book on the shortlist

Boston College Robert Savage’s book The BBC’s ‘Irish Troubles’: Television, Conflict and Northern Ireland has been named to the shortlist for the 25th Christopher Ewart-Biggs Literary Prize. The winner of the prize, named for the British ambassador to Ireland who was murdered by the IRA in 1976, will be announced on April 11 in Belfast. The objective of the prize is to honor works that align with the ideals of Christopher Ewart-Biggs–promoting and encouraging peace and reconciliation in Ireland, a greater understanding between the people of Britain and Ireland, and closer co-operation between the partners of the European Community. Savage’s book focuses on the BBC and how its broadcasts complicated the “Troubles” by challenging decisions, policies and tactics developed by governments trying to defeat a stubborn insurgency that threatened national security. More from the Irish Times.

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Shariah, the Islamic canonical law based on the teachings of the Koran, is a complex concept that has been interpreted in many ways over time and around the world. It plays a vital role in the lives of Muslims around the world, offering guidance on everything from personal morality to ritual practices, family life, and finance. But for many outside the Islamic world, Shariah is a misunderstood concept susceptible to media manipulation. In their new book, Shariah: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2018), Natana J. DeLong-Bas of Boston College and John Esposito of Georgetown University provide clear and even-handed answers to a wide range of questions, covering the history, development, content, and practice of Shariah. According to Publishers Weekly, “the clear writing and solid scholarship make [Shariah: What Everyone Needs to Know] a valuable reference work.” DeLong-Bas is an assistant professor of the practice in the Theology Department & Islamic Civilization and Societies program. She is also the author of Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad.

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Beyond Katrina

Award-winning poet Natasha Trethewey will discuss her nonfiction book, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, on March 14 at 7:00 p.m. in Gasson Hall, room 100. A Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate, Trethewey spent her childhood in Gulfport, where her mother’s family extended family lived. In Beyond Katrina, Trethewey melds her memories of the Mississippi Gulf Coast — complete with letters, poems, and photographs — with the experiences of family, friends, and neighbors to trace the erosion of local culture, the rising economic dependence on tourism and casinos, and to unveil a life on the margins for Gulf Coast whose citizens—particularly African Americans—well before the storm hit. Trethewey is the author of four collections of poetry: ThrallNative Guard Bellocq’s Ophelia; and Domestic Work. She is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University.  Sponsors: Park Street Corporation Speaker Series and Lowell Humanities Series.

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The story of Yak Girl

At age seven, Dorje Dolma was living in one of the most remote places in the world, protecting her family’s goats and sheep from wolves and snow leopards. By age 10, she was facing a life-threatening condition and would encounter an American woman, with Boston College ties, who would change the course of her life. Dolma recounts her amazing childhood and journey to America in her new memoir, Yak Girl: Growing Up in the Remote Dolpo Region of Nepal (Sentient Publications, 2018). The book’s foreword is written by former Boston College soccer player Jennifer Cleary, whose writes that her life was changed “in the most profound of ways” after she met Dorje. Read more from BC News.

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Love and marriage in today’s India

In India today, tradition is colliding with Western culture, creating an uneasy fusion whose impact is most evident in the institution of marriage. In her new book, The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai (Harper, 2018), journalist Elizabeth Flock takes a deep dive into the married lives of three couples as they navigate issues such as infertility, women’s roles, religious tradition, and infidelity. Flock  spent close to a decade getting to know these couples—listening to their stories and living in their homes, where she was privy to countless moments of marital joy, inevitable frustration, dramatic upheaval, and whispered confessions and secrets. The Heart Is a Shifting Sea is both a look at the universal mysteries of love and marriage and a portrait of a nation in the midst of transition. A graduate of Boston College, Flock is a reporter for PBS NewsHour. She began her career at Forbes India Magazine, and has worked for U.S. News & World Report and the Washington Post. She has also written for the New York Times, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, the Hindustan Times and the Hindu. National Public Radio interview.

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