Khmer-American Writer, Teacher Dies Of COVID-19

New York: A promising young writer and English teacher Kimarlee Nguyen died on April 5 from complications caused by COVID-19. She was aged 33.

Much of her writing work was inspired by her parents’ experience of living under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Her mother’s family had lived in a a Thai refugee camp for three years before coming to the United States in 1982, settling in Revere, Mass., where Ms. Nguyen grew up.

Kimarlee Nguyen earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Vassar in 2008 and a master of fine arts degree from Long Island University Brooklyn in 2016.

For the last six years, she taught English at Brooklyn Latin in New York.

She received scholarships and grants from the Cullman Center Institute for Teachers, the Key West Literary Seminar, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her fiction appeared in Pank, the Adroit JournalDrunken BoatHyphen, and Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, among other publications.

READ: The Ear of the Sky short story.

She was working on a novel titled “Lion’s Tooth”about Cambodian-American family in Massachusetts.

A tribute reads:

“It is with great sadness that we share the loss of Kimarlee Nguyen, a dear member of our community & an inaugural Mentorship Fellow, who passed away on April 5, 2020 at age 33 due to complications from COVID-19. Kimarlee was a brilliant, unforgettable writer we are devastated to lose. She was one of three fiction writers in Kundiman’s first Mentorship Lab, which brought together nine emerging writers for an intensive six-month program. In her application letter, she spoke about the importance of community, and we count ourselves as lucky to have communed and shared space alongside her this past year. At the end of the program, we asked each writer to send in a testimonial about their time in the program. Kimarlee’s was especially representative of her generous, warm spirit and her devotion to community”


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