|Story teller: Vietnamese-American Nguyễn Thanh Việt appears at the Harvard Book Store hours after winning a Pulitzer Prize. -- Photo bostonglobe.com|
HÀ NỘI – Vietnamese-American Nguyễn Thanh Việt has won the Pulitzer Prize 2016 for his novel titled The Sympathizer.
Việt beat two other finalists -- Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble: Stories, published by Random House, and Margaret Verble’s Maud’s Line, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt -- in the fiction category, the Pulitzer website announced.
Born in Việt Nam and brought up in America, Việt, 25, teaches English and American Studies at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles.
The Sympathizer is Việt’s debut novel and was published by Grove Press. The story follows the life of a man raised by his Vietnamese mother in the absence of his French father. The man goes to university in America but later returns to Việt Nam to fight for the Việt Nam People’s Army.
“Việt Thanh Nguyễn’s astonishing novel takes us inside the mind of this double agent, a man whose lofty ideals necessitate his betrayal of the people closest to him. A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today,” the Pulitzer website said.
“Thanks for all your good wishes,” Việt wrote on Facebook. “I double checked with real people in my publisher’s office… and they say The Sympathizer really did win the Pulitzer Prize. Unless this is some cosmic virtual reality trick, I’m stunned.”
The Pulitzer committee praised The Sympathizer as “a layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a ‘man of two minds’ and two countries, Việt Nam and the United States.”
Việt’s The Sympathizer was judged by critic and author Art Winslow (chair), Francis Lee Higginson, professor of English at Harvard University Leah Price, and author and professor of English at George Washington University Edward P Jones, also a past Pulitzer Prize winner.
His stories have appeared in Best New American Voice, TriQuarterly, Narrative, and the Chicago Tribune. He is also the author of the academic book Race and Resistance.