Newbery Award-winning Author Daniel Nayeri to be 2024 Wheaton College Commencement Speaker

April 9, 2024

Headshot of Daniel Nayeri, award-winning author of Everything Sad is UntrueWheaton College is pleased to announce that Newbery Award-winning author Daniel Nayeri will be the 2024 Commencement speaker for the College’s graduate and undergraduate ceremonies on May 4 and 5.

Nayeri was born in Iran and lived for three years in refugee camps in Dubai and Rome before settling in 1990 with his family—when Nayeri was eight—in Edmond, Oklahoma. He later graduated from Edmond Memorial High School and attended New York University, where he studied writing.

Nayeri is an author of books for young readers, including Everything Sad is Untrue (A True Story), winner of the Michael L. Printz Award, the Christopher Medal, and the Middle Eastern Book Award; and The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams, winner of this year’s Newbery Honor Award. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and son.

Everything Sad is Untrue (A True Story) was the 2023-24 Core Book at Wheaton and is based on Nayeri’s experience immigrating to the United States with his family as refugees. Nayeri testifies to the influence of his mother’s strong faith in Jesus Christ through his painful but often humorous stories about navigating cultural differences as an Iranian in America.

“We are delighted to have Mr. Nayeri share his faithful wisdom with Wheaton College’s undergraduate and graduate classes of 2024,” said President Philip Ryken. “Through Everything Sad is Untrue, our students, faculty, and staff were able to share both his unique and universal experiences immigrating to the United States, and we were deeply moved, particularly by his portrayal of his mother, who maintained an unswerving dedication to Christ.” 

Among many other Core Book activities, Nayeri came to campus this past fall to lecture and participate in panel discussions. He spoke about ways well-meaning people can provide dignity as part of hospitality by allowing refugees to give back. “By that, I mean being useful to someone, bringing their talents to bear, or sharing some part of themselves,” he said publicly last year. “These are all moments that, generally speaking, people appreciate. I don’t know many people who want to be getting without giving.”

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