Professor Viet Thanh Nguyen is not just a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient. On Wednesday, he was also selected as one of the 213 notables elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences this year.
The Academy stands as one of the oldest learned societies in the nation, honoring and bringing together exceptional scholars, leaders and innovators to create policies and initiatives to empower future generations. Other awardees this year include former President Barack Obama, actor Tom Hanks and author Ta-Nehisi Coates.
“I shivered a little to see my name next to Barack Obama in this announcement about our selection as members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” Nguyen tweeted Tuesday.
According to a news release, Nguyen joins a cohort of historical figures including Charles Darwin, Martin Luther King Jr. and Benjamin Franklin.
“This was a completely unexpected honor, for which I’m grateful,” Nguyen said to USC News.
Nguyen is one of the most decorated professors at USC. In 2016, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with his novel The Sympathizer, which provides readers with “unconventional and critical” perspectives on the Vietnam War.
Nguyen received several awards for the novel, including the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the First Novel Prize for the Center for Fiction and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Literary Excellence.
In 2017, he was named a MacArthur Fellow and received the Guggenheim Fellowship. President C. L. Max Nikias named him a University Professor this February, an immense honor based on multidisciplinary interests and achievements.
“Professor Nguyen applies his extraordinary talent as a scholar, writer and advocate to help us build empathy and broaden our understanding of the world,” said Amber Miller, the dean of USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, to USC News.
In addition to Nguyen, 23 other faculty members from Dornsife have been elected to the Academy.
According to the Academy’s website, the 238th class of American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellows will be inducted at a ceremony in Cambridge, Mass., this October.