Sharon Tran and Catherine Nguyen win in our subscriber drive!

diaCRITICS wants to add 100 new subscribers! The 25th, 50th, 75th, and 100th subscribers (and those who referred them) get their pick of prizes. Sharon Tran is our 25th subscriber and has chosen Kim-An Lieberman’s poetry book Breaking the Map. diaCRITICS editor Catherine Nguyen referred Sharon and will get a signed DVD of Operation Babylift. They both happen to be studying for their doctorates in literature at UCLA. We‘re a little late getting this information posted, and we have well over 30 new subscribers, so please keep signing up via the email link or the networked blogs option on the right. And if you want to refer people and are on networked blogs, you can invite all your friends on Facebook to join via networked blogs!

A little more information about Sharon Tran and Catherine Nguyen comes below.


“Simply put, this is a wonderful first collection….This is a geography that demands attention.” – Samuel Green, Washington State Poet Laureate

“…whatever forty-year-old image we might still remember from Vietnam or America that is part real and part television, she makes whole, new, and vibrant. She makes us a witness more than reader.”
– Shawn Wong, Author of Homebase and American Knees


Where are you from?

Sharon: I am from Queens, New York.

Catherine: I’m from Orange, California.

Sharon Tran

Tell us something else about yourself.

Sharon: I enjoy traveling, learning new languages, and spending hours in cafes drinking coffee, reading, and doing manga art.

Catherine: I have a twin sister, who is an English PhD candidate at Madison. She works on 18th and 19th century British literature, which is actually my favorite literary period.

*editor’s note: Sharon is also a twin. Her twin is also studying for a Ph.D. in English.  We did not plan any of this.

Catherine Nguyen

What are you studying at UCLA?

Sharon: I am a first-year English PhD student at UCLA specializing in Asian American literature and cultural productions. In my current research I consider the racialization of Asian Americans in terms of broader biopolitical implications. I am particularly interested in how the biopolitical valuation of life legitimates and exacerbates death for other populations and how contemporary novels such as Susan Choi’s A Person of Interest provide grounds for theorizing a means of transcending that destructive biopolitical-necropolitical binary. I see Choi as articulating a politics of negativity that compels a more constructive attitude towards life and death, a politics that resists privileging life in order to preclude death and accentuates the importance of risking one’s material bodily life and absence in order to initiate new conditions of possibility that will enable new ways of presencing.

Catherine: I’m a UCLA Comparative Literature PhD student studying Vietnamese diasporic literatures and Asian American studies.  Working on 1.5 and second generation Vietnamese diasporic literatures in French and English, I examine how these writers negotiate the(ir) past and history and how they engage in a work of memory in a way that opens up different ways of conceiving of and working through the past and the history of Viet Nam and of the Vietnamese diaspora. Rather than falling prey to problematic readings of nostalgia and melancholia, I argue that they articulate alternative discourses of ontology, temporality, alterity, and hospitality. In doing so, they challenge the fixing of their diasporic subjectivity within specific national citizenship, thus opening up space for multiple positionalities as Vietnamese diasporic subjects.

Do you have a favorite Vietnamese or Vietnamese diasporic work of art? If so, tell us about it.

Sharon: My favorite Vietnamese diasporic work of art is Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt. I love Truong’s lyrical prose and her fascinating revision of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas’ romantic interlude in Paris during the 1930s from the perspective of Binh, their live-in Vietnamese cook. I think that the novel also compels an important re-conceptualization and expansion of the field of Asian American Studies beyond the US nation-state, recovering a repressed history of the triangulation of US-European imperialism in Asia.

Catherine: One of my favorites is le thi diem thuy’s The gangster we are all looking for (2003) because it is an eloquent and poetic work of prose fiction. The novel speaks of the hardships of immigration, of a Vietnamese family’s reunion and adapting to life in San Diego, California, and of the narrator’s coming of age in the wake of loss and displacement. Because the novel offers such a different perspective and vision of the Vietnamese American/diasporic subject, it sparked my interest in Vietnamese American literature. Shortly thereafter, I changed my research focus from comparative Francophone literatures to Vietnamese diasporic writings.


Commemorating Operation Babylift, a U.S. relief effort that rescued more than 2,500 orphans out of Vietnam in 1975, this update is an informative and passionate look at the aftermath of war and the innocent children lostin the chaos of battle. Filmmaker Tammy Nguyen Lee combines archival black-and white film footage of bombings, evacuations, orphaned babies, and more with interviews with parents, volunteers, and rescued Vietnamese adoptees (now adults) who tell their stories with honesty and poignancy.


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