The winner of 2016 Pulitzer Prize for fiction has now been announced. Hayim Oshky discusses the book that won this most prestigious of awards.
The Pulitzer Prizes are awards designed to honour the best in literature, musical composition and journalism in the US. The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is designed to celebrate “distinguished fiction published in book form during the year by an American author, preferably dealing with American life.”
The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is one of the most distinguished awards in the literary world. Past winners include Ernest Hemmingway, which recognised his novel For Whom The Bell Tolls, William Faulkner for A Fable, Harper Lee for To Kill a Mockingbird and Alice Walker for The Colour Purple. The newest addition to this list of literary luminaries is Nguyễn Thanh Việt, a Vietnamese-American author.
2016 Prize Winner
Local news agency Vietnam News writes that Việt has been awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Sympathizer. Việt’s debut novel, The Sympathizer chronicles the life of a man who was raised by his Vietnamese mother but without his French father. After attending University in the States, The Sympathizer’s protagonist returns to his homeland to fight with the Vietnam People’s Army.
Describing The Sympathizer, the Pulitzer Prize’s website writes: “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.”
Việt, a 25 year old English and American Studies teacher, was born in Vietnam but raised in the States. His book The Sympathizer beat two other finalist to clinch the prize, Margaret Verble’s Maud’s Line and Kelly Link’s Get in Trouble: Stories. Commenting on The Sympathizer, The Pulitzer Prize committee labelled it “a layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a ‘man of two minds’ and two countries, Vietnam and the United States.”
So how did Nguyễn Thanh Việt react to the life-changing news that he had won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction? Writing on his Facebook account, he said: “I double checked with real people in my publisher’s office [Grove Press]… and they say The Sympathizer really did win the Pulitzer Prize. Unless this is some cosmic virtual reality trick, I’m stunned.”
Deserved Pulitzer winner
A clever novel which expertly chronicles the struggles that come with being caught between two worlds, The Sympathizer is a well-deserved winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Considering the fact that The Sympathizer was Nguyễn Thanh Việt’s first novel, it is clear that this extremely talented author is set to have an amazing career going forward.
Thank you for reading… Hayim Oshky.