Winner of 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. A startling debut novel featuring one of the most remarkable narrators of recent fiction: a conflicted subversive and idealist working as a double agent in the aftermath of the Vietnam War
Winner of 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause.
A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.
I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds. I am not some misunderstood mutant from a comic book or a horror movie, although some have treated me as such. I am simply able to see any issue from both sides. Sometimes I flatter myself that this is a talent, and although it is admittedly one of a minor nature, it is perhaps also the sole talent I possess. At other times, when I reflect on how I cannot help but observe the world in such a fashion, I wonder if what I have should even be called talent. After all, a talent is something you use, not something that uses you. The talent you cannot not use, the talent that possesses youthat is a hazard, I must confess. But in the month when this confession begins, my way of seeing the world still seemed more of a virtue than a danger, which is how some dangers first appear.
The month in question was April, the cruelest month. It was the month in which a war that ...
The Sympathizer himself is a marvel of a complex character, navigating his many loyalties with outward aplomb even as he is internally conflicted by his actions. With flawless writing, Nguyen paints his protagonist as a man haunted by many ghosts, both literal and metaphorical, primary among them being his very identity.
(Reviewed by Poornima Apte).
Viet Thanh Nguyen's debut The Sympathizer vividly describes the fall of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in the opening chapters as the narrator is transported out of the city along with a host of fellow citizens who have served the American cause in some way.
April 30, 2015 marked the fortieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon. Theoretically, the Vietnam war ended in 1973 with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords and the withdrawal of large-scale American troops. Nevertheless a skeletal force of U.S. Marines and military officers were retained to maintain U.S. consul offices in a few key South Vietnam cities including Saigon. A new Defense Attache's Office (DAO) was created to keep an eye on the geopolitical situation and to ...
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