Imagine James Bond jumping into the Vietnamese jungle with the cast from Apocalypse Now, only to be captured and treated like Winston Smith at the end of 1984, and you have Nguyen's Pulitzer Prize winner. Sad while witty, it presents the multitudinous experience of Vietnamese immigrant veterans who fought alongside the U.S. Army during the Vietnam war, people dealt a double-blow of displacement: exiled from their now-communist homeland, and rejected by an America they tried to protect during the war. At once philosophical and visceral, it raises especially relevant questions about politics, party loyalty, and the value and legitimacy of democracy at home and abroad. But it's more than just a revelatory war novel, or a contentious political novel. It's a novel about the deterioration of a mind relentlessly tormented and abused by racism, alcoholism, self-hatred, and the ghosts of its victims. Ultimately it's about the incongruity of being a compassionate, loving individual in a hyper-political world that dehumanizes all of us in service to an alleged greater democratic cause. A cause that, when you try to grab it, or even glimpse it, somehow always seems to slip through your fingers, to vanish at the last minute. A cause that cloaks depravity in sacred flags, leaving in its wake little more than nonsensical rhetoric and the dregs of human slaughterhouses.— Joel
April 2015 Indie Next List
“The Sympathizer is a fascinating and highly original novel about the Vietnam War and its aftermath. The unnamed narrator, a South Vietnamese captain, works for the Americans while spying for the Viet Cong. After the evacuation of Saigon, he follows an American general to the U.S. and finds himself torn between two worlds: his new life in the West among his fellow political refugees and his sympathies for the Communists back home. Nguyen injects much dark humor into this tragic story, and the narrator's voice is both subversive and unforgettable. The Sympathizer will be one of the most talked-about novels of the year.”
— Pierre Camy, Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI
Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Winner of the 2016 Edgar Award for Best First Novel
Winner of the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
" A] remarkable debut novel"--Philip Caputo, New York Times Book Review (cover review)
The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as seven other awards, The Sympathizer is one of the most acclaimed books of the twenty-first century. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Vladimir Nabokov, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a "man of two minds," a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who comes to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping spy novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.
About the Author
Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. He is the author of The Committed, which continues the story of The Sympathizer, awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, alongside seven other prizes. He is also the author of the short story collection The Refugees; the nonfiction book Nothing Ever Dies, a finalist for the National Book Award; and is the editor of an anthology of refugee writing, The Displaced. He is the Aerol Arnold Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations. He lives in Los Angeles.