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Pulitzer Winner Viet Thanh Nguyen on His New Book The Refugees
Sarah Begley

Feb 02, 2017
Sarah Begley is a staff writer for TIME.

Viet Thanh Nguyen had a pretty spectacular 2016: his debut novel, The Sympathizer, about a Vietnamese double agent who goes to California after the Vietnam War, won the Pulitzer Prize after selling only 22,000 copies in hardcover. Thanks to that and other plaudits, the book has now sold almost 400,000 copies.
Nguyen hasn't wasted time putting out a follow-up, though it was a long time in the making--20 years, in fact. Nguyen started writing The Refugees, a short-story collection, in 1997 and didn't finish it until 2014. Again, he focuses on Vietnamese immigrants who go to the States after the fall of Saigon. Ghosts and grocery-store owners, professors and prodigal daughters populate the pages. Some of the stories seem to resonate with his own childhood as a refugee of the Vietnam War, arriving in the U.S. in 1975. After several years of separation, his family settled in San Jose, Calif., where they opened a Vietnamese grocery store.






今週のNew YorerではJoyce Carol Oatesがこの本の書評を書いていました。それだけ注目作ということでしょう。

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Viet Thanh Nguyen tells stories about people poised between their devastated homeland and their affluent adopted country.

By Joyce Carol Oates

個人的にはGeorge SaundersのLincoln in the Bardoの方に興味があったのですが、890円というお手ごろ価格だったのでまずはこちらを読んでみようと思います。



想像の共同体で有名なベネディクト・アンダーソンの自伝「ヤシガラ椀の外へ」が英語版A Life Beyond Boundariesとして発売されているのを最近知りました。日本語版が先で英語圏に逆輸入された珍しいケースですね。


Benedict Anderson, Scholar Who Saw Nations as ‘Imagined,’ Dies at 79

At his death, Dr. Anderson had been finalizing an English translation of a memoir, “A Life Beyond Boundaries,” which was first published in Japanese. The book urges readers to resist the easy comforts of imagined homes; extols the joys of learning languages and of teaching and doing field work; and examines the New Left’s influence. It is scheduled to be published on July 6.



店でじっと待っていれば、幸運が扉を叩くというものではない。好機というのは、しばしば予期せぬ偶然としてやって来るものであり、それがさっと目の前を通り過ぎる前に、勇敢にあるいは無謀に、これを捕まえなければならない。思うに、冒険精神ほど、本当に生産的な学問生活にとって決定的に重要なものはないだろう。インドネシアでは、道で誰かに「どこに行くのか?」と尋ねられたとき、もし行き先を教えたくなければ、あるいはどこに行くのかまだ分からなければ、ラギ・チャリ・アンギン(lagi cari angin)、「風を探してるんだ」と答える。港を出て大海原に向かう帆船のようにだ。冒険と言っても、私が子供時代に少年小説で読んだ類のことを言っているのではない。大学や学部の制度、あるいはディシプリンに安住してしまうと、研究者は港を出ようとはせず、風を探そうともしなくなる。風を探そうとの心構え、風を見つけたらそれを捕らえようとする気概が大切なのだ。そのためには、ヴィクター・ターナーの巡礼ではないが、物理的な旅と精神的な旅の両方をすることが重要だ。ある時、ジム・シーゲルに、「ベン、お前は、僕の知人や友人の中で唯一自分の研究と直接関係のない本を読む奴だよ」と言われたことがあった。これは、私には最高の褒め言葉に聞こえたのだった。

At the same time, chance does not knock on our door if we do nothing but wait patiently in the shop. Chance often comes to us in the form of unexpected opportunities, which one has to be brave or foolhardy enough to seize as they flash by. This spirit of adventure is, I believe, crucial to a really productive scholarly life. In Indonesia, when someone asks you where you are going and you either don’t want to tell them or you haven’t yet decided, you answer: lagi tjari angin, which means ‘I am looking for a wind’, as if you were a sailing-ship heading out of a harbour onto the vast open sea. Adventure here is not of the kind that filled the books I used to enjoy reading as a boy. Scholars who feel comfortable with their position in a discipline, department or university will try neither to sail out of harbour nor to look for a wind. But what is to be cherished is the readiness to look for that wind and the courage to follow it when it blows in your direction. To borrow the metaphor of pilgrimage from Victor Turner, both physical and mental journeys are important. Jim Siegel once told me: ‘Ben, you are the only one among my friends and aquaintances who reads books unrelated to your own fields. ‘ I took this as a great compliment.



It is important to keep in mind that to learn a language is not simply to learn a linguistic means of communication. It is also to learn the way of thinking and feeling of a people who speak and write a language which is different from ours. It is to learn the history and culture underlying their thoughts and emotions and so to learn to empathize with them.



‘Globalization’ of this kind is of course resisted too, and one of the most powerful weapons in the struggle is nationalism. There are thousands of excellent scholars in many countries, politically opposed to American hegemony (…) Many others write in their mother-language for apolitical reasons: they can express themselves best in the language, or they are too lazy to master another. There is nothing terribly wrong with any of this, and much that is good. But it does risk the obvious perils of not being exposed to the views of good foreign readers, or of falling into narrow-minded nationalism.



Nationalism and globalization do have the tendency to circumscribe our outlook and simplify matters. This is why what is increasingly needed is a sophisticated and serious blending of the emancipatory possibilities of both nationalism and internationalism. Hence, in the spirit of Walt Kelly as well as Karl Marx in a good mood, I suggest the following slogan for young scholars:

Frogs in their fight for emancipation will only lose by crouching in their murky coconut half-shells. Frogs of the world unite!




2015年のNYTベストブックの10冊に選ばれていたThe Invention of Natureという本が翻訳されました。読んでみたらもの凄く面白かったのでオススメします。

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World
By Andrea Wulf

Alexander von Humboldt may have been the pre-eminent scientist of his era, second in fame only to Napoleon, but outside his native Germany his reputation has faded. Wulf does much to revive our appreciation of this ecological visionary through her lively, impressively researched account of his travels and exploits, reminding us of the lasting influence of his primary insight: that the Earth is a single, interconnected organism, one that can be catastrophically damaged by our own destructive actions.


フンボルトの冒険  自然という<生命の網>の発明
[著] アンドレア・ウルフ [訳] 鍛原多惠子



環境破壊や武力紛争等、自然と人間の営みが複雑に絡み合う現代において、博物学最後の巨人の今日的意味を描き出し、科学界をはじめ欧米メディアで絶賛された決定版伝記、ついに邦訳! 王立協会科学図書賞受賞、NYタイムズベストブック選定。 

史上、ここまでスケールの大きな人物はいないだろう ──椎名 誠 

負け惜しみを言えば、Invention of Natureというタイトルを見て内容を見くびっていた部分がありました。現在の「自然」という考えは歴史的に構成された見方に過ぎないとでも言いたいのだろうとたかをくくっていたのです。実際、17世紀ごろまでは「世界は人間のためにつくられた」(フランシス・ベーコン)、「(人間は)自然の主人であり、所有者なのである」(ルネ・デカルト)のように人間中心の見方を自然に対して持っていたようで、人間が手を加えることで自然は良くなると考えていた人もいたようです。これに対してフンボルトは日本語版のタイトルにあるような見方をします。




The Royal Society announces Andrea Wulf as the winner of the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize 2016
19 September 2016

The Royal Society has announced Andrea Wulf as the 29th winner of the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize for The Invention of Nature, her biography of Alexander von Humboldt, an explorer, naturalist and foreign member of the Royal Society.

Andrea Wulf - 2016 Winner
Andrea Wulf
Dubbed “the Shakespeare of the sciences” by his contemporaries, Humboldt inspired scientists, thinkers and writers including Darwin, Wordsworth and Jules Verne with his pioneering idea of nature being one giant organism in which everything is connected.

Yet, in the English-speaking world, he faded from collective memory, despite having more things named after him than anyone who has ever lived. His namesakes include the Humboldt Current – the cold ocean current that hugs South America — mountain ranges in China, New Zealand and South Africa; a breed of penguins in South America; a river in Brazil; a glacier in Greenland; 13 towns in North America and a predatory six-foot squid. And his influence wasn’t limited to this planet; on the moon there is a basaltic plane named Humboldtianum.

In The Invention of Nature Wulf resurrects the reputation of Humboldt as a visionary polymath who made science accessible and popular. His approach combined science and arts by including poetry, history, art and politics alongside hard data.

Chair of judges and former winner of the Prize, Bill Bryson said:
“The decisive factor for the winning book was that it excited and gripped us as judges the most. The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf is a thrilling adventure story as much as a science book about a polymath who had an extraordinary impact on our contemporary understanding of nature. It is a book you will find yourself talking endlessly about with friends in the pub.”






Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa talk music, art and creativity
One writes fiction, the other conducts an orchestra, but Murakami and Ozawa share a drive, determination – and a passion for music. They discuss the creative process, inspiration and the eclecticism of Mahler
Seiji Ozawa, left, and Ozawa Murakami.
Haruki Murakami, Seiji Ozawa

Saturday 5 November 2016 14.00 GMT


Secondly, we both maintain the same “hungry heart” we possessed in our youth, that persistent feeling that “this is not good enough”, that we must dig deeper, forge farther ahead. This is the major motif of our work and our lives. Observing Ozawa in action, I could feel the depth and intensity of the desire he brought to his work. He was convinced of his own rightness and proud of what he was doing, but not in the least satisfied with it. I could see he knew he should be able to make the music even better, even deeper, and he was determined to make it happen even as he struggled with the constraints of time and his own physical strength.


ニューヨークタイムズの書評で面白いと思ったのは対談でもFact Checkしているところ。どうしても我々は有名人の話はそのまま聞いてしまいますよね。。

Review: ‘Absolutely on Music’ Gives a Maestro a Stage for Ideas
Books of The Times


There is much good, solid musical discussion and information here. But there are also too many muddled volleys off the top of the head, lacking the needed factual follow-up and correction.

In a conversation about the quality of the sound at Carnegie Hall, Mr. Ozawa recalls a live taping there of Brahms’s First Symphony with the Saito Kinen Orchestra in 2010: “When we recorded this,” he said, “I hadn’t been there for some time, and I’m pretty sure it changed in that time. It got a lot better.”

Mr. Murakami: “I heard it was renovated.”

Mr. Ozawa: “Oh, really? That makes sense.”

Mr. Ozawa led the Vienna Philharmonic in three concerts at Carnegie in 2004. “I remember then thinking that the sound had improved,” he says. “It certainly hadn’t when I was there with the Boston Symphony” some eight years before.

But this is all balderdash. The wholesale renovation of Carnegie took place in 1986, and the concrete left under the stage floor was removed in 1995. No changes significantly affecting the acoustics have been made since.



MURAKAMI: Now that you mention it, Mann said a lot about the breath. When people sing, they have to take a breath as some point. But “unfortunately,” he said, string instruments don’t have to breath, so you have to keep the breath in mind as you play. That “unfortunately” was interesting. He also talked a lot about silence. Silence is not just the absence of sound: there is a sound called silence.
OZAWA: Ah, that’s the same thing as the Japanese idea of ma. The same concept comes up in gagaku, and in playing the biwa and the shakuhachi. It’s very much like that. This kind of ma is written into the score in some Western music, but there is also some in which it’s not written. Mann has a very good understanding of these things.



OZAWA: Yes, in both my conducting and my teaching. I don’t approach either with preconceived ideas. I don’t prepare beforehand but decide on the spot when I see who I’m dealing with. I respond then and there when I see how they are handling things. Somebody like me could never write an instruction manual. I don’t have anything to say until I’ve got a musician right in front of me.
MURAKAMI: And then, depending on who that musician is, it changes what you say. It must be good for the students to have the two of you in combination: you, with your flexible approach, and Robert Mann, with his unwavering philosophy. I bet it works out very well.
OZAWA: Yes, I think so.



OZAWA: … you can pour a lot of time into rehearsing each one. Take the rehearsals we’re doing now: we probe very deeply into each piece. And the more you rehearse, the more difficulties come to the surface.
MURAKAMI: You mean, the more time you spend rehearsing, the more difficult become the various hurdles that need to be cleared?
OZAWA: That’s right. You may get them to where they’re all breathing together, but still the parts are perfectly synced. The nuances of sound are a little off, say, or the rhythms are not quite together. So you put lots of time into refining each of these tiny details. That way, tomorrow’s performance should be at an even higher level. So then you demand even more from them. This process teachers me an awful lot.

そうそう今週のNew York TimesのBook ReviewでThe SympathizerやNothing Ever Diesのベトナム系作家Viet Thanh Nguyenが夕食会に呼びたい三人の作家に村上春樹を選んでました。

Viet Thanh Nguyen: By the Book
JAN. 30, 2017

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
Haruki Murakami, since it seems unlikely I’ll ever meet him. He can curate the music and cook spaghetti. Carrie Fisher, for her wit and bravura. Lastly, John Berger. I love that Berger gave half his Booker Prize money in 1972 to the Black Panthers, and used the other half to fund the research for his next book on migrant laborers. Berger was the kind of writer we need more of — politically committed, aesthetically serious, always curious.


Age of Discovery


日本では大航海時代と呼ばれるAge of Discoveryという言葉を紹介したくなった別の理由はつい最近上記の本をAudibleで聞いたからでした。今はルネサンス、発見の時代に匹敵する大激動の時代というのです。

日本人は何か新しい時代が始まろうとするとすぐに「第三の開国」とか、「何ちゃら維新」とか呼びたくなりますが、欧米にとってはルネサンスという言葉もそのような言葉なのかもしれません。Are We Living in a New Renaissance?と呼びかけています。以下のScientific Americanのサイトでは本の始まりである第1章の抜粋を読むことができます。英語学習的にはa New Renaissance という冠詞の使い方やflounder, or flourishという語呂の良さもチェックしておきたいです。

Are We Living in a New Renaissance?
Two scholars speculate on how history may be repeating itself in this excerpt from their new book

By Ian Goldin, Chris Kutarna on May 24, 2016

If Michelangelo were reborn today, amidst all the turmoil that marks our present age, would he flounder, or flourish again?

Every year, millions of people file into the Sistine Chapel to stare up in wonder at Michelangelo Buonarroti’s Creation of Adam. Millions more pay homage to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Through five centuries, we have carefully preserved such Renaissance masterpieces, and cherished them, as objects of beauty and inspiration.

But they also challenge us.

The artists who crafted these feats of genius five hundred years ago did not inhabit some magical age of universal beauty, but rather a tumultuous moment—marked by historic milestones and discoveries, yes, but also wrenching upheaval. Their world was tangling together in a way it had never done before, thanks to Gutenberg’s recent invention of the printing press (1450s), Columbus’s discovery of the New World (1492) and Vasco da Gama’s discovery of a sea route to Asia’s riches (1497). And humanity’s fortunes were changing, in some ways radically. The Black Death had tapered off, Europe’s population was recovering, and public health, wealth and education were all rising.


Another Age of Discovery
Thomas L. Friedman
JUNE 22, 2016

Have we been here before? I know — it feels as if the internet, virtual reality, Donald Trump, Facebook, sequencing of the human genome and machines that can reason better than people constitute a change in the pace of change without precedent. But we’ve actually been through an extraordinarily rapid transition like this before in history — a transition we can learn a lot from.

Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University, and Chris Kutarna, also of Oxford Martin, have just published a book — “Age of Discovery: Navigating the Risks and Rewards of Our New Renaissance” — about lessons we can draw from the period 1450 to 1550, known as the Age of Discovery. It was when the world made a series of great leaps forward, propelled by da Vinci, Michelangelo, Copernicus and Columbus, that produced the Renaissance and reshaped science, education, manufacturing, communications, politics and geopolitics.

この本の面白いところの一つにルネサンスの光の部分だけでなく激動の時代の闇の部分にも触れているところでしょうか。トランプに匹敵する扇動家がいたというのです。先ほどの冠詞の使い方がWas there a Donald Trump back then?とここでもされています。

Was there a Donald Trump back then?


“From there, Savonarola launched an ugly campaign of public purification, introducing radical laws including against homosexuality, and attacked public intellectuals in an act of intimidation that history still remembers as the Bonfire of the Vanities. Savonarola was amongst the first to tap into the information revolution of the time, and while others produced long sermons and treatises, Savonarola disseminated short pamphlets, in what may be thought of as the equivalent of political tweets.”


Navigating the New Renaissance
An Interview with the University of Oxford’s Ian Goldin

NOVEMBER 30, 2016

In reading the book, I was really fascinated with the quotes taken from the Renaissance that sounded actual and real. You describe the era as an eruption of genius.

For me, the real driver of that explosion of genius was the printing press. It was the sudden sharing of ideas and information, and, with that, the desire to have literacy. Before then, only monks could really read and write in Latin the handwritten manuscripts in their monasteries, and the church had a monopoly of knowledge. This revolution democratized information in the same way the internet has today. But, of course, the numbers of people today are so much greater. We go from a world of only half a billion people connected in the 1980s to 5 billion people connected now. When I first went to China in 1980, only 78 people had doctoral degrees. Now there are hundreds of thousands. That’s a quantum shift in the number of incredibly gifted people around the world who are sharing ideas. If you believe in the random distribution of exceptional creativity, call it genius, there’s a lot more today—only the new Einsteins will not emerge from the streets of Vienna or New York or London; they will emerge from Mumbai and elsewhere.

It’s not just individual random genius; it’s also collective genius. When people come together as diverse teams, that’s when you really get sparks, and that’s happening across the board. It’s happening virtually—look at YouTube videos of people learning to hip-hop dance, sharing the latest moves around the world, or see what’s happening in the labs in the Oxford Martin School on new cures for cancer on a 24-hour research cycle around the world. It’s that collective endeavor which is totally unlike anything that’s ever happened before.