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A Man of Two Faces

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781472155641

Price: £22

ON SALE: 7th March 2024

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Memoirs

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‘A triumphant memoir’ Cathy Park Hong, author of MINOR FEELINGS, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

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, humour, formal invention, and lyricism, in A Man of Two Faces 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 Mê Thu?t 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 José. But there is violence hidden behind the sunny façade of what he calls AMERICA™. 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 SàiGòn M?i, 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.

Resonant in its emotions and clear 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.

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Reviews

"A Man of Two Faces is an alchemical feat of memory, history, and theory that beautifully achieves a difficult balance: a bold and searing polemic, it's at the same time a moving, personal tale... Through his family's story, Viet Thanh Nguyen renders not only a powerful portrait of America but - perhaps more necessary in our current moment - also an uplifting act of mourning. Simultaneously raw and lucid, haunting and reasoned, A Man of Two Faces opens up groundbreaking ways to speak the nation's story and a family's pain"
Gina Apostol, author of LA TERCERA
"None of the usual adjectives apply to Viet Thanh Nguyen's memoir - it is beyond words like brilliant and heartbreaking, because the prose rejects that kind of easy summary. This book belongs with James Baldwin, Claude Brown, Maxine Hong Kingston, and other writers whose memoirs take apart 'the American Dream' with laser precision. Nguyen's tensile anger and evanescent memory is measure of the fundamental sadness of watching his family, and himself, in their dreams, set against the violence and history of this country"
Susan Straight, author of MECCA, finalist for the Kirkus Prize
'Having become a prizewinning, best-selling novelist with The Sympathizer and its sequel, The Committed, Nguyen turns to the urgently written story of his own life... He writes about his turbulent childhood, wrestling with his dual identity, rediscovering family in his home country and the effects of American life'
Washington Post
'The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer pushes the boundary of genre in his new memoir, which investigates his personal history as a Vietnamese refugee forced to flee at age 4, as well as the many narratives that form the idea of America itself. Film criticism, poetry and self-effacing jokes are involved, but ultimately, "this is a war story," he writes'
New York Times
'Collage may be an apt word to describe this genre-bending memoir from Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur fellow Viet Thanh Nguyen. Weaving together forms that include exquisite prose, verse and photographs, this masterful memoir follows the author and his family from their home country of Vietnam as they resettle in San Jose, including explosive revelations about family, memory and loss'
San Francisco Chronicle
'Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen returns with a deeply personal and political memoir that uses the defining moments of his own life to explore his conflicted relationship with America... A Man of Two Faces is a witty and scathing look at what it means to be a refugee, an immigrant, and an American in a world that doesn't see you as you see yourself'
TIME Magazine
"A Man of Two Faces is a searing and sensitive memoir on the long shadow that war casts on those who manage to survive it. This book is a work of love and anger and care and it will resonate with everyone who has lost a home"
Laila Lalami, author of THE OTHER AMERICANS and CONDITIONAL CITIZENS
"A kaleidoscopic memoir . . . Deeply personal and intensely political . . . If the author's criticism is understandably scathing, there is also a mischievous sense of humor . . . Nguyen indisputably captures the workings of a quicksilver and penetrating mind . . . Lyrical and biting, by one of our leading writers"
Kirkus Reviews
"Viet Thanh Nguyen's A Man of Two Faces is a triumphant memoir that sears through the fog of American amnesia. A vulnerable and scorching mirror to self and to nation, his book explores his family's 'epic and quotidian' struggles as refugees and indicts Hollywood as propaganda that has fed the American war machine and anti-Asian racism. It is a fissured lyric on memory and a clarifying meditation on empire. Every American needs to read this essential book."
Cathy Park Hong, author of MINOR FEELINGS, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize