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The Sympathizer (2015)

by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,0351323,625 (3.92)211
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.… (more)
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» See also 211 mentions

English (127)  French (2)  Piratical (1)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (132)
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
Minus one star for how he writes women. ( )
  MaryJeanPhillips | Jun 22, 2022 |
[b:The Sympathizer|23168277|The Sympathizer|Viet Thanh Nguyen|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1423543886s/23168277.jpg|42713530] is full of big themes like racism; loyalty; representation, including who is named and who does the naming (fascinating); and memory. And there are plenty of twists that you'd want in a spy novel. But the biggest payoff for me (besides the surprise of actually enjoying a spy novel) was the realization about half way through the book that I was sympathizing (sorry) with a communist "villain." This novel's greatest victory is that I, a post-Vietnam baby who has never seen communism, particularly Asian communism, represented in popular culture as anything but the purest brutal evil, was able to, almost unconsciously, slide right into a communist sleeper agent's perspective so smoothly that it never occurred to me to perceive the narrator as anything but (sorry, again) sympathetic. ( )
  IVLeafClover | Jun 21, 2022 |
Pulitzer Prize winner because it is distinctly of the "Get Whitey" variety so it has to win awards, right? An intellectual tour de force by a really well educated little guy who has endeared himself to the" White (or is it really "Jewish") Privilege" coastal crowds. A very good book well worth the read - I enjoyed it. ( )
  BayanX | Jun 7, 2022 |
This was an interesting read. As I have very little knowledge of the Vietnam War, only because I don't have an overwhelming interest I was pretty shocked on how we pulled out of that war and the close resemblance to how America pulled out of Afghanistan. I wish we really were better at honoring our promises to the people who helped us navigate our way through these wars, its upsetting. Other than that, I felt somewhat loss reading this book. I am not saying I didn't enjoy getting to know the Vietnamese points of view on America and how they are treated and how they were treated when they went back to fight as revolutionaries in Vietnam, I just feel a conflict of my emotions on the whole storyline and what exactly the author wanted to provoke in the reader of this book. ( )
  booklovers2 | Apr 7, 2022 |
I usually don't read spy novels or war novels, because of the violence they portray. When my book club decided to read The Sympathizer I was less than enthusiastic, but I need not have worried. Despite many horrible scenes and a less than likable narrator/ protagonist I was spellbound by the many layers and depth the story has. By choosing a Eurasian spy as the main character and writing the novel in the first person singular the author was able to describe thoughts and experiences more intimately than most spy/war novels do. This directness made the message of the novel hit home deeply.
Without stereotyping or self victimization the reader experiences the Vietnamese point of view. Yes, our protagonist is angry, has many weaknesses and does reprehensible things, but seeing American culture and society through his eyes is a revelation for most Americans.
The book has evokes many discussions about the war in Vietnam (and American involvement in other countries' internal conflicts, the way Americans view the Vietnamese and other immigrants/ refugees,racial conflicts. It shows that history can be viewed from very different angles and that we should not take our view for granted.
( )
  Marietje.Halbertsma | Jan 9, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
...The Sympathizer is an excellent literary novel, and one that ends, with unsettling present-day resonance, in a refugee boat where opposing ideas about intentions, actions and their consequences take stark and resilient human form.
added by thorold | editThe Guardian, Randy Boyagoda (Mar 12, 2016)
 
The more powerful a country is, the more disposed its people will be to see it as the lead actor in the sometimes farcical, often tragic pageant of history. So it is that we, citizens of a superpower, have viewed the Vietnam War as a solely American drama in which the febrile land of tigers and elephants was mere backdrop and the Vietnamese mere extras.
 
Très beau roman qui raconte le parcours d’un agent secret Viêt-Cong infiltré côté américain pendant la guerre du Vietnam. L’action débute au moment de l’évacuation des troupes américaines et des Vietnamiens collaborateurs.
added by Marc-Narcisse | editLe sympathisant
 

» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Viet Thanh Nguyenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Baude, ClémentTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Let us not become gloomy as soon as we hear the word "torture": in this particular case there is plenty to offset and mitigate that word--even something to laugh at.

-Friedrich Nietzsche, On the genealogy of morals
Dedication
For Lan and Ellison
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I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces.
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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.

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