Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

The Sympathizer Wins Center For Fiction’s 2015 First Novel Prize

New York, December 8, 2015 – The Center for Fiction, founded in 1820 as the Mercantile Library Association of New York, is pleased to announce that Viet Thanh Nguyen has been awarded the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize for his novel, The Sympathizer (Grove Press).

The annual prize includes a $10,000 cash award and was presented at The Center for Fiction’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner in New York City on December 8. The presentation was made by Tiphanie Yanique, winner of The Center’s First Novel Prize in 2014 for her novel, Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead Books/The Penguin Group).

Viet with the prize

“Extraordinary . . . Surely a new classic of war fiction. . . ,” says the Washington Post about this Vietnam War novel. “[A] remarkable debut novel . . .[Nguyen] brings a distinctive perspective to the war and its aftermath. His book fills a void in the literature, giving voice to the previously voiceless while it compels the rest of us to look at the events of 40 years ago in a new light,” says a review in the New York Times.

It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause.

Author Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. His stories have appeared in Best New American Voices, TriQuarterly, Narrative, and the Chicago Tribune and he is the author of the academic book Race and Resistance. He teaches English and American Studies at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles.

Viet and his editor, Peter Blackstock

Judges for the 2015 First Novel Prize were Siri Hustvedt, author of six novels and a growing body of nonfiction; Ann Packer, author of two collections of short fiction and two bestselling novels; Akhil Sharma, whose latest work was chosen by the New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of 2014; and Tiphanie Yanique, winner of the 2014 First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction

In addition to Tiphanie Yanique, previous winners of the Center’s First Novel Prize include Marisha Pessl for Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Junot Díaz for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Hannah Tinti for The Good Thief, John Pipkin for Woodsburner, Karl Marlantes for Matterhorn, Bonnie Nadzam for Lamb, Ben Fountain for Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Margaret Wrinkle for Wash.

At its December 8th Dinner, the Center for Fiction also presented its 2015 Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction to Daniel Halpern, publisher and president of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. This award honors an editor, publisher, or agent who over the course of his or her career has discovered, nurtured, and championed writers of fiction, carrying on the tradition exemplified so well by Maxwell Perkins.

This article was originally published on December 9th, 2015 at

About The Center for Fiction

The Center for Fiction, founded in 1820 as the Mercantile Library of New York, is the only non-profit literary center in the U.S. devoted solely to this vital art form. The mission of The Center for Fiction is to encourage people to read and value fiction, and to support and celebrate its creation and enjoyment.


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