Skip to main content
Event Details

Refuge: Viet Thanh Nguyen & Shankari Chandran 

23 May 2024
6.30pm – 7.30pm AEST
Leighton Hall, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Kensington
This event has ended
Shankari Chandran, Daniel Ghezelbash and Viet Thanh Nguyen

Shankari Chandran | Daniel Ghezelbash | Viet Thanh Nguyen

The life stories of refugees have all the narrative tropes of myth, replete with world-shattering conflicts, perilous voyages, and courageous heroes who sometimes get to live happily ever after.  
Hosted by refugee law expert and advocate Daniel Ghezelbash, this free event brings together Pulitzer Prize for Fiction-winner Viet Thanh Nguyen (A Man With Two Faces) and Miles Franklin-winner Shankari Chandran (Safe Haven), whose latest books draw on first-person accounts of seeking asylum and illuminate the realities of this all-too-common experience. 
Go beyond the media reports, with these dramatic tales of escape and its aftermath. 

This event is presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas and Sydney Writers' Festival. Viet Thanh Nguyen appears thanks to the support of Fiona and Matthew Playfair.


UNSW Sydney is the exclusive university sponsor and proud Premier Partner of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. Featuring UNSW academics and researchers on Sydney Writers’ Festival stages, and events at the UNSW Kensington Campus, this partnership brings together a shared vision of creativity, curiosity and thought leadership. 


Leighton Hall is located inside the John Niland Scientia Building at UNSW Sydney's Kensington campus. Please note this is a live event only, and will not be available via livestream.   






Wheelchair Access
The closest accessible drop off point to Leighton Hall is via Gate 11, Botany Street. More information on getting there can be found via our interactive accessibility map available here.

Assisted Listening
Leighton Hall utilises hearing assistive technology available. Patrons wishing to use this service must collect a Roger™ inductive neck loop receiver from the venue staff, and this system can be used with a hearing aid or cochlear implant with a T-coil, or with headphones.

This event will be live captioned.

Auslan interpreting services can be provided for selected talks upon request. 

To book and discuss access services, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485 or email


Leighton Hall (John Niland Scientia Building) is easily accessible via public transport and the closest light rail stop is the UNSW High Street (L2 line). For more information please call the Transport Infoline on 131 500 or visit

Free parking is also available in the Botany St Car Park (Gate 11) from 5.30pm. For access to free parking, event patrons must park in the UNSW Permit Holder bays, available on all levels. The Botany St Car Park (Gate 11) parking station is located here.

Paid casual and visitor parking is offered via the CellOPark App and ‘pay by plate meters’ in all other UNSW car parks. For more information head here



For all enquiries please email or call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485.

The Centre for Ideas is happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for 02 9065 0485. Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 9065 0485. For more information on all other relay calls visit here.

Shankari Chandran

Shankari Chandran

Shankari Chandran is an Australian Tamil lawyer and the author of Safe Haven (2024), Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens (Miles Franklin Literary Award 2023), Song of the Sun God (2022), The Barrier (2017) and Unfinished Business (2024, Audible). She is the deputy chair of Writing NSW and lives in Sydney with her husband and four children.

Daniel Ghezelbash

Daniel Ghezelbash

Daniel Ghezelbash is an internationally renowned refugee law scholar, advocate and lawyer. He is an Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, UNSW Sydney. His research transcends traditional disciplinary barriers, drawing on everything from law, computing, political science, behavioural psychology and data science. His book, Refuge Lost: Asylum Law in an Interdependent World examines how restrictive asylum policies have spread around the world. 

His more recent work has focused on improving the fairness and efficiency of asylum procedures, and more broadly, how technology and data can be used to increase access to justice and counteract bias and discrimination in the legal system. He is Special Counsel at the National Justice Project, and sits on the boards of a number of not-for-profit legal centres, including Refugee Advice and Casework Services and Wallumatta Legal. Daniel regularly features and published in domestic and international media outlets on refugee and migration issues.

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. He is the author of The Committed, which continues the story of The Sympathizer, awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, alongside seven other prizes. He is also the author of the short story collection The Refugees; the nonfiction book Nothing Ever Dies, a finalist for the National Book Award; and is the editor of an anthology of refugee writing, The Displaced. He is the Aerol Arnold Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations. He lives in Los Angeles.

For first access to upcoming events and new ideas

Explore past events