Keynote Speaker Thi Bui in Conversation with Pulitzer Prize winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen – Recording Available

Tuesday, April 5, 2022 @ 6:30 pm via Zoom, Speakers represented by The Tuesday Agency

2022 Big Read Keynote Address: Thi Bui, author of The Best We Could Do in conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Viet Thanh Nguyen with Q&A

“I began to record our family history…thinking that if I bridged the gap between the past and the present, I could fill the void between my parents and me.”
—Thi Bui in The Best We Could Do

Thi Bui

Before she began to work on The Best We Could Do in 2005, Thi Bui had never drawn a comic in her life. Twelve years later, the debut graphic memoir would be released to widespread acclaim from critics and literary heavyweights alike. An American Book Award winner, a National Book Critics Circle finalist in autobiography, and an Eisner Award finalist in reality-based comics, Bui’s memoir traces her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s and their effort to build new lives for themselves in America. Bui documents parental sacrifice, excavates family histories, and grapples with the inherited struggles of displacement and diaspora.

Thi Bui was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States as a child. She studied art and law and thought about becoming a civil rights lawyer, but became a public school teacher instead. Bui lives in Berkeley, California, with her son, her husband, and her mother.

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Nguyen’s debut novel, The Sympathizer, won the Pulitzer Prize, was a Dayton Literary Peace Prize winner, and made the finalist list for the PEN/Faulkner award. Viet and his family came to the United States as refugees during the Vietnam War in 1975. As he grew up in America, he began to notice that most movies and books about the war focused on Americans while the Vietnamese were silenced and erased. He was inspired by this lack of representation to write about the war from a Vietnamese perspective, globally reimagining what we thought we knew about the conflict.

His other books are Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction) and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. He is also the author of the bestselling short story collection, The Refugees. He is the editor of The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives. 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. Along with teaching at the University of Southern California, he works as a cultural critic-at-large for The Los Angeles Times. Viet lives in LA with his wife and two children.


Co-sponsored by the Miami Book Fair, Hopewell Valley Regional School District and Pennington Public Library

This program is part of the 2022 NEA Big Read, which encourages the Pennington community to read the same book and participate in a wide variety of events. The Best We Could Do is an intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam. NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Please visit for a full calendar of events and more information.