The Sympathizer – Viet Thanh Nguyen

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 fascinating story of a double agent at the end of the Vietnam war.

“I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds.”  

Dark humour pervades this novel as our main character, the Captain, tells his account of a devastating period of Vietnamese and American history.

The story starts with a powerful description of the fall of Saigon and subsequent escape for a fortunate few to America. The refugees then set about building their new lives; deception and culture clash ensues. Finally, the Captain’s inevitable return to Vietnam and what awaits him there as a double agent.

This Pulitzer prize-winning novel is clever and funny, and at times uncomfortable and confronting. A complex but highly enjoyable and readable story.

“I was in close quarters with some representative specimens of the most dangerous creature in the history of the world, the white man in a suit.” 

“Its refugee members were hobbled by their structural function in the American Dream, which was to be so unhappy as to make other Americans grateful for their happiness.” 

CHECK IT

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

PUBLISHED: 2015

GENRE: Literary fiction

PAGES: 371

AWARDS: Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction 2016

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