The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Viet Thanh Nguyen's Pulitizer Prize winning story The Sympathizer is a haunting tale of espionage at the end of the Vietnam War. The unnamed narrator of the story is a communist double agent and refugee of the war, sent to America with the General he was sent to spy on. As the story unfolds we realize the narrator is a captured man, giving his confession and detailing his time in America and the Philippines. The story touches on many themes but centers around the narrator's duality. He is half Vietnamese, half French, working as a Viet Cong spy undercover as a south Vietnamese spy. He has become a Vietnamese American not fully feeling that he belongs in American or Vietnamese society. He is a conflicted man of two minds struggling to understand his own political beliefs and his place in two worlds.
This was at times a tough read for me. I have a very good friend who is the son of a former south Vietnamese Navy Commander that was one of the last evacuated from the war. The scenes of the narrator's evacuation are very similar to what my friend has shared with me of his own experience. I can only imagine what it must feel like to come to a country as a refugee and not feeling as if you fit in any where. I have to admit that at times the spying scenes and political rhetoric were not as exciting for me, but it is a very good look at an often overlooked perspective of the impact of the Vietnam War.
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