The Sympathizer is a story about the nameless narrator only known as the Captain — a subversive, a mole who pretends to sympathize with the south but is a spy and collaborating with the north. He is brought up by a poor Vietnamese mother and absent French priest for a father, went to study in the US and returned home to fight for the Communist cause.
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s writing style is beautiful and he certainly has a way with words. Try reading the first page and you’d know you’re reading the work of a talented writer. The book is full of wonderfully written passages and I’ve learned a good deal of vocabulary, too. I even made a list of these words so I can check them again and maybe use them myself someday as well.
The Sympathizer is a complex read that tackles different themes: war, identity, history, friendship, communism, loyalty, etc. It is a real page-turner and one of the books I’ve read this year I find particularly interesting. I can definitely see why it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016.
“Besides my conscience, my liver was the most abused part of my body.”
“We would all be in hell if convicted of our thoughts.”
“Nothing is ever so expensive as what is offered for free.”
“I could live without television, but not without books.”
“We don’t succeed or fail because of fortune or luck. We succeed because we understand the way the world works and what we have to do. We fail because others understand this better than we do.”
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Everyone who tells a story tells it differently, just to remind us that everybody sees it differently.