- Author: Viet Thanh Nguyen
- Title The Sympathizer
- Published: 2015
- Genre: tragicomic novel
- Triva: Pulitzer Prize List winner 2016
- Trivia: #20BooksOfSummer List
- This book grabs the reader with the first sentence:
” I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces.”
- The theme of being divided into two halves (..two faces)
was laced throughout the text:
‘better to be…
villain than virtuous extra
to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven
loved than hated
hated than ignored.
- The narrator’s tragic flaw is in the title:
- He would be better off if he saw things from one side,
- but he didn’t. He saw it from both sides
- ch 14: “you’re too sympathetic, the General said….”
- Writing was at times very original.
- — She had a mind like an abacus, the spine of a drill instructor,
- and a body of a virgin even after five children
- — Cognac made everything beautiful,
- …the equivalent of a mother’s kiss for a grown man.
- Religion is a prominent theme in the book
- The narrator is the bastard the son of a maid and French priest.
- Again the ‘two faces’ of the narrator are visible (ch 2).
- — “We genuflected, but in actuality we were atheists.
- The text is riddled with ecclesiastical allusions.
- — holy men like my father, who had not only holes in
- his socks but also had a hole somewhere in his soul.
- — in his cassock, this holy man who sweated in his
- unnatural garb to save us from our tropical sins.
- This was a very intense.
- There were times I was captivated by the narrator’s observations.
- There were times I was bored to death.
- (movie-making in Thailand and re-education camp).
- The climax began in chapter 19.
- It was a difficult read (violence, torture) and did not enjoy it.
- Nguyen ends the book still trying to answer
- universal and timeless questions about
- power, revolution, freedom dreaming of eternal sleep
- …or dreaming of nothing.
- This is a unique book by a new voice in America.
- I hope you take the time to read it
- …and decide for yourself if it is a winner.