If you’ve been waiting with baited breath for the English Department’s reading series to begin, wait no longer! We are kicking off the semester with a visit from distinguished fiction writer, poet, translator, and photographer Linh Dinh, who will be coming to Coe’s campus for a reading next Wednesday, September 24. The reading will be held in Kesler Auditorium at 4:30pm.
Linh Dinh was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States in 1975, narrowly escaping the fall of Saigon. He has two collections of short stories, five books of poetry, and a novel to his name, and his short story collection Blood and Soap was chosen by the Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. His most recent work of translation is Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao. Dinh’s work walks cultural boundaries between America and Vietnam, and he often mixes grotesque imagery with sharp political commentary.
In an interview with the Pacific Rim Review of Books, Dinh talks about a major theme of his work, which is lifting the cracked facade of both American and Vietnamese society: “The two cultures I’m most familiar with, the U.S. and Vietnam, are tremendously fake, but in different ways. During the Vietnam War, the Hanoi government also called the South Vietnamese “nguy,” or “fake” (This term “nguy” is frequently translated into English as “puppet,” but it actually means “fake.”) One of my favorite lines of all time is Elias Canetti’s “She saw behind everything. Behind that, she saw nothing.” So my motto is, “You’ve got to see behind what’s behind,” you’ve got to see beyond the so-called authenticity behind the fakeness.”
Dinh’s current project is Postcards from the End of America, a blog featuring haunting photographs of America’s homeless in cities across the US. It is set to be released as a book in 2015.
At the upcoming reading, Dinh will read from his work and participate in a question and answer discussion exploring his writing, translation work, editing, and much more with Assistant Professor of English, Nick Twemlow. The reading is free and open to the public. Hope to see you there!
-Laura Mills, English Department Student Blogger