Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen to headline WIDA eConference

Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his novel “The Sympathizer,” will deliver the keynote address at the WIDA eConference on October 14, 2021. During his address, Nguyen will talk about his experience as a refugee in America and his work to advocate for Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).

Viet Thanh Nguyen

WIDA is housed in the UW–Madison School of Education’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

“It is an incredible honor to have Viet Thanh Nguyen join the WIDA eConference and share his powerful story with attendees,” Tim Boals, WIDA founder and director, said. “Given that the theme of the conference is ‘reimagining opportunity and access for multilingual learners,’ it is more important than ever to shine a light on Viet’s experiences and his advocacy work within the AAPI community.”

Nguyen and his family came to the United States as refugees during the Vietnam War. As he grew up in America, he noticed that most movies and books about the war focused on Americans, while the Vietnamese were silenced and erased. He was motivated by this lack of representation to write about the war from a Vietnamese perspective, globally reimagining what we thought we knew about the conflict.

Cue Nguyen’s New York Times bestselling debut novel, “The Sympathizer,” which prompts readers to examine the legacy of that tumultuous time and its aftermath from a new perspective.

“The pandemic has forced many of us to view our work with multilingual learners from a new perspective,” Boals said. “I appreciate Viet’s ability to use his work to challenge our longstanding viewpoints and help us envision a brighter future.”

Nguyen’s latest novel, “The Committed,” which came out in March, is a sequel to “The Sympathizer.” It has already been called “a masterwork.”

Nguyen is a recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant for offering insight into “the experiences of refugees past and present” and posing “profound questions about how we might more accurately and conscientiously portray victims and adversaries of other wars.”

Besides writing award-winning novels, Nguyen teaches at the University of Southern California and works as a cultural critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Learn more about the WIDA eConference.

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