On The Sympathizer

Posted by Jack on 2018-02-01 at 18:00
Tagged: books
TitleThe Sympathizer
AuthorViet Thanh Nguyen

Unsurprisingly for a Pulitzer winner, this book is phenomenal.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It's equal parts thriller, satire, and meditation grappling with the complexity of discovering one's identity. Both in terms of the title character's split allegiances and the struggle of his fellow refugees, but also in terms of Vietnam and America reshaping (or failing to reshape) their conceptions of self once the Vietnam War ended.

I'll admit I was skeptical about the writing style at first. The book is written almost as if spoken, sort of weaving and tangenting naturally. Nguyen also eschews some basic English style (like giving proper names, or having quotation marks and spacing to denote someone speaking) which can be a pretentious warning flag. Once you're immersed in the story, however, it's hard to imagine it written any other way and the natural flow and thriller pacing makes this book extremely hard to put down.