Viet Thanh Nguyen wins Pulitzer Prize for 'The Sympathizer'

"A layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a 'man of two minds' -- and two countries."

Vietnamese American writer Viet Thanh Nguyen has won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his debut novel The Sympathizer, published last year by Grove Press. The award, announced Monday, recognizes distinguished fiction published in book form by an American author, "preferably dealing with American life."

Viet Thanh Nguyen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for 'The Sympathizer'

The Sympathizer is part spy thriller, part political satire, telling the story of the fall of South Vietnamese government and subsequent events in American exile in Los Angeles, through the eyes of an undercover communist agent. The book explores life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.

The Pulitzer committee lauded The Sympathizer as "a layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a 'man of two minds' -- and two countries, Vietnam and the United States."

Nguyen, who lives in Los Angeles and is a professor at USC, expressed surprise and disbelief at the award.

"I double checked with real people in my publisher's office..." he shared on Facebook, "and they say that The Sympathizer really did win the Pulitzer Prize. Unless this is some cosmic virtual reality trick, I'm stunned."

Nguyen's latest book is the nonfiction study Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, published earlier this month by Harvard University Press. He's also working on a sequel to The Sympathizer.

More here: Pulitzers: Broadway’s 'Hamilton,' novel 'The Sympathizer' among arts winners

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