Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen to headline 2021 WIDA eConference

May 19, 2021

Dr. Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Sympathizer, will deliver the keynote address at the 2021 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).

“It is an incredible honor to have Viet Thanh Nguyen join the 2021 WIDA eConference and share his powerful story with attendees,” said Tim Boals, WIDA founder and director. “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.

Reserve your seat at Viet Thanh Nguyen’s keynote!

  • Prospective 2021 WIDA eConference attendees: Registration includes access to live sessions, presentation handouts and materials, interactive breakout group opportunities and access to all recorded content through the end of 2021. The 2021 WIDA eConference is open to all who would like to attend. Space is limited and available on a first come, first-served basis. Registration costs $150. The price will increase to $180 on September 1.
  • Members of the media: If you are interested in covering Viet Thanh Nguyen’s keynote address, contact Katie Stenz at kstenz@wisc.edu. Please note: Coverage of Viet Thanh Nguyen is limited to print only. No recording devices or photography will be permitted.

About the 2021 WIDA eConference

The 2021 WIDA eConference is a single-day virtual event featuring 20 live sessions with interactive breakout groups. Conference presenters include WIDA staff, educators and experts from the field. Sessions are designed for educators of K-12 multilingual learners.

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