The New York Times

America, Say My Name

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

I TRIED TROY. I STUCK WITH VIET.

LOS ANGELES — What’s your name? Mine is Viet Thanh Nguyen, although I was born, in Vietnam, as Nguyen Thanh Viet. Whichever way you arrange my name, it is not a typical American name. Growing up in the United States, I was encouraged by generations of American tradition to believe that it was normal, desirable and practical to adopt an American first name, and even to change one’s surname to an American one.

Of course, that raises the question — what exactly is an American name?

When my Vietnamese parents became American citizens, they took the pragmatic route and changed their names to Joseph and Linda. My adolescent self was shocked. Were these the same

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The New York Times

The New York Times2 min readFood & Wine
Way Back, When Bagels Were Tiny
(Science Times) ; (Trilobites) Researchers exploring an archaeological site in Austria have found three pieces of 3,000-year-old charred bread that look suspiciously like the remains of little bagels. They are not complete rings — only parts of what
The New York Times15 min readTech
The Making of a YouTube Radical
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Caleb Cain pulled a Glock pistol from his waistband, took out the magazine and casually tossed both onto the kitchen counter. “I bought it the day after I got death threats,” he said. The threats, Cain explained, came from right-
The New York Times5 min read
No Longer All Sweetness and Light
Zendaya jumps from Disney to drug binges in HBO’s graphic “Euphoria.” In an interview, the longtime Disney Channel star discusses her “scary” move into explicit, provocative television.