Renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen faced an unexpected cancellation of his scheduled event in New York City after he publicly criticized Israel’s actions against Palestinians. Viet Thanh Nguyen, known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Sympathizer,” took to social media to express his disappointment. The event at the 92nd Street Y, a well-known cultural and community center in Manhattan, was called off just hours before it was set to take place.
In a post on Instagram, Nguyen revealed that the cancellation came without any explanation or alternative date for rescheduling. He stated, “No reason was given, no other date was offered, and I was never asked.”
The 92nd Street Y, often referred to as “the Y,” describes itself as a “proud Jewish organization” and hosts a variety of cultural and community events on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
A spokesperson for the 92nd Street Y, in response to inquiries from Reuters, stated that the reading event was “postponed” due to Viet Thanh Nguyen’s stance on Israel. The spokesperson added, “Given the public comments by the invited author on Israel and this moment, we felt the responsible course of action was to postpone the event while we take some time to determine how best to use our platform and support the entire 92NY community.”
The institution emphasized in its statement that it has a history of welcoming individuals with diverse viewpoints to their stage. However, it acknowledged the recent violence in the region, saying, “the brutal Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel and the continued holding of hostages, including senior citizens and young children, has absolutely devastated the community.” Israel responded to the attack with retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza.
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s decision to speak out against Israel’s actions was prompted by his signing of an open letter along with other authors. The letter condemns Israel’s actions against Palestinians, accusing the state of committing “grave crimes against humanity.” The letter cites Israel’s efforts to cut off essential supplies and displace Palestinians from their homes.
On his Instagram page, Nguyen expressed his hope for a moral consensus against the killing of civilians, whether it is carried out by Hamas or Israel. He further stated, “I have no regrets about anything I have said or done in regards to Palestine, Israel, or the occupation and war.”
In response to the event cancellation, Viet Thanh Nguyen relocated his reading and discussion to the McNally Jackson bookstore in lower Manhattan at the South Street Seaport area. During the rescheduled event, Nguyen not only discussed his book but also highlighted the silencing of art during times of conflict and division, emphasizing the importance of recognizing the world beyond “us vs. them.”