The Sympathizer: A Novel (pulitzer Prize For Fiction) by Viet Thanh NguyenThe Sympathizer: A Novel (pulitzer Prize For Fiction) by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Sympathizer: A Novel (pulitzer Prize For Fiction)

byViet Thanh Nguyen

Paperback | April 22, 2016

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The winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as six other awards,The Sympathizer is the breakthrough novel of the year. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Saul Bellow,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 arranges to come 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 espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.
Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. He is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the academic booksRace and Resistance andNothing Ever Dies. He is a cultural critic-at-large for theLos Angeles Times and teaches English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He lives in Los An...
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Title:The Sympathizer: A Novel (pulitzer Prize For Fiction)Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.18 inPublished:April 22, 2016Publisher:Grove/AtlanticLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0802124941

ISBN - 13:9780802124944

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible One of the greatest works of fiction I've ever read and possibly the best; truly remarkable for a debut novel. The prose leaves me in awe of what the written word can accomplish.
Date published: 2017-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Deserved it's award. Fantastic novel. Has everything I want in a good read.
Date published: 2017-09-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Powerful A gripping tale told from the perspective of "a man of two minds", The Sympathizer explores the powerful themes of identity and loyalty during the Vietnam War.
Date published: 2017-08-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Sympathizer The Sympathizer is a powerful novel, taking as its subject the final days and aftermath of the Vietnam War as seen through the eyes of a North Vietnamese spy who is also the aide to a top ranking South Vietnamese general. The mole (never named) was educated in the United States before returning to Vietnam and signing on as a Viet Cong spy. He accompanies the general to the United States after the fall of Saigon and continues his espionage work there. He ultimately returns to Vietnam in an ill-fated attempt to establish a counter-insurgency on behalf of the general. I found the novel to be highly educational, as I’d never read such an account of the Vietnam War from the viewpoint of the Vietnamese.
Date published: 2017-05-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from couldn't get into it this is one of those books that everyone seems to love but i don't even like making me think there's something wrong with my brain. i just found it really boring.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting but questionable It was an immersive read, but the concepts and ideology it presents seems to be biased and a bit questionable at times. My mother is a boat person and she was skeptical and almost unhappy with the author's viewpoints.
Date published: 2016-12-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from OK A good experience as a novel
Date published: 2016-12-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Great book although it joins the category of will never read again.
Date published: 2016-12-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for everyone The Sympathizer is a powerful book with a lot to say about about the Vietnam war, the American government, and communism. Its a book that is well written and one that I really wanted to enjoy. I really don't have anything to critique. I may have even given it three stars, but for the disgusting, graphic rape and torture scenes at the end. Stuff like that doesn't leave my head for a long time. So no complaints, but honestly I just couldn't get into it. It reads so detached. The characters are unlikable. The situation dire and grim. I completely get why people love this book, why it won a prize, why its considered in such high regard--but I didn't find it engaging. If you are a fan of literary fiction, historical fiction, or books dealing in espionage, this one may interest you. But if you have any triggers or are at all sensitive about rape or torture, give this one a wide berth. And if you're like me and just not into this sort of thing, probably best to move on.
Date published: 2016-11-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Yarn I’m not sure about the rest of Canada, but I didn’t learn much about the Vietnam War during my high school history classes. WWI and WWII were taught as highlight reel of major events, cliff notes on battles fought, assassinations of Archdukes, and the social fallout of the wars. Little time was spent in the years that followed, though there was usually a slide on the Cold War. Somewhere on that slide the Vietnam War would find itself a bullet point; part of a list rather than a horrid conflict. This is an unfortunate gap in my education. Though, I can understand why it is not taught in high schools in Canada. It is more complex than WWII. There’s no clean narrative of the villain and the hero’s triumph, as there is with the Axis and Allies. Thus, armed with a complex novel about the Vietnam War, The Sympathizer, and our generation’s most reliable accesible and trustworthy mostly-accurate collection of knowledge, Wikipedia, I decided to get myself edumacated. Now, you don’t need to read my review to decide whether you are going to read this book or not. I hold no illusions that my word will mean more to you than the gold circle that reads “Winner of the Pulizter Prize” emblazoned on the front of my copy of The Sympathizer. Though I like to pride myself on reading a wide variety of literature, the Pulitzers tend to be books that stir up conversation simply by their ubiquity on the shelves of the well read. Personally, I wait earnestly to discover whichever book has won the Fiction Prize each year. I consider the flashy gold circle as good as a guarantee of quality (Olive Kitteridge being an exception, though I appreciated the craft even if I did not enjoy the reading). So, little surprise here, I thought The Sympathizer was great, though there are a few things that keep it from being an absolute knockout of a novel for me. The premise is as follows: the novel is a written confession from a man the reader knows only as the Captain, the circumstances of his writing cloaked in mystery. The Captain is a biracial (French and Vietnamese) sleeper agent in America following the fall of Saigon, reporting back to communist forces in Vietnam. The Captain’s confession, then, serves as the tale of his life as his leaves Vietnam in the back of military aircraft during a bombing, through to the reveal of how he has found himself in his particular predicament. Now, I don’t know about my reading audience, but I expected, with that synopsis, a rather serious tale. Instead, The Sympathizer is actually brimming with humor, doused in satire, and revels in the absurd. The narrator’s tone is equal parts self-deprecating and furious. Indeed, though the novel’s comedic underpinnings could confuse some into thinking it lighthearted, it is anything but. The closing quarter section of the novel was both appalling and enthralling. For readers triggered by stories of torture and the violence of war, consider yourselves warned. What also surprised me (and was discussed in a bonus essay in my edition of the novel) was the angry tone taken throughout the read. The Captain lambasts the Americanized view of the Vietnam War, perhaps most noticeably during the section in which our narrator attempts to establish a Vietnamese perspective for a Hollywood take on the Vietnam War. The book is dripping with anger on behalf of Southern Vietnamese immigrants who found their way to America, as well as the bias view of the war held by the West. It works both as a non-American perspective on the war as well as a novel about the difficulty of life as an immigrant in North America. The novel is a joy to read and took me through a turbulent flight of emotions and reactions. There was laughter, shock, intrigue, horror, disbelief, and passages that I found endlessly profound. Of course, like any rocky flight, there are always those moments when you can’t help but wish your feet were planted on firm ground. There were times when I picked up the book and found it to move slowly, or I was slightly bored by the particularly thread the novel chose to deal with. Luckily, those slow periods don’t last long. Despite being a pretty dense read, the novel keeps a quick pace by regularly switching the direction of the narrative. The escape from Vietnam is quickly followed by a reintroduction of the narrator to America, then he’s off to the film set, then in pursuit of love, etc. The pacing was a bit strange at first, but I admit to being intrigued for never knowing quite what was around the corner for our hero. Unsurprisingly, the writing is outstanding. Viet Thanh Nguyen has a great handle on his character’s divided loyalties, his wry humor, his desires, shames, and brings them all to life through thoughtful prose. There’s some paragraphs that stretch pages and, if I’m allowed a confession of my own, I felt exhausted as I read them. I’ll also admit that while I normally hate when novels bury dialogue into paragraphs that alternate speakers within said paragraphs, it kind of works for The Sympathizer. The confessional conceit of the novel makes the choice to convey dialogue in paragraphs part of the form and function of the story. The Sympathizer is a smart novel that was probably a bit too bold choice for my introduction to Vietnam War writing. With that said, I really enjoyed my experience reading The Sympathizer. I didn’t really touch on the symbolism in the novel, but the duality of the narrator reflects the divided nature of Vietnam, and is further reinforced through other dualities that appear during the Captain’s confession. Fans of books like Midnight’s Children will find a lot to enjoy with Nguyen’s novel. I can’t say that I’ve ever read a Pulitzer like The Sympathizer, but that’s a good thing.
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Masterful Story Indigo is very good at recommendations for books. The Sympathizer is one of the best books I have read, in its own way. The writing is stellar and I really admired the attention to detail in people and places. Being born in the U.S. during Viet Nam and having a father who fought there, and living my life afterwards then moving to Canada in my mid thirties, I appreciated everything the writer wrote in his story. Masterful Storytelling. I did not see the end coming and when it did, I had a Holy Moley moment and it blew my mind. Fantastic book. Buy This Book. You won't be disappointed.
Date published: 2016-06-02

Editorial Reviews

Praise forThe Sympathizer:Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for FictionWinner of the 2016 Edgar Award for Best First NovelWinner of the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in FictionWinner of the 2016 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for FictionWinner of the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel PrizeWinner of the 2015-2016 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (Adult Fiction)Winner of the 2016 California Book Award for First FictionWinner of the 2017 Association for Asian American Studies Award for Best Book in Creative Writing (Prose)Finalist for the 2016 PEN/Faulkner AwardFinalist for the 2016 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut FictionFinalist for the 2016 Medici Book Club PrizeFinalist for the 2015Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Mystery/Thriller)Finalist for the 2016 ABA Indies Choice/E.B. White Read-Aloud Award (Book of the Year, Adult Fiction)Shortlisted for the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award Named a Best Book of the Year on more than twenty lists, including theNew York Times Book Review,Wall Street Journal, andWashington Post'A layered immigrant tale told in the wry, confessional voice of a 'man of two minds'-and two countries, Vietnam and the United States.'-Pulitzer Prize Citation'[A] remarkable debut novel . . . [Nguyen] brings a distinctive perspective to the war and its aftermath. His book fills a void in the literature, giving voice to the previously voiceless . . . The nameless protagonist-narrator, a memorable character despite his anonymity, is an Americanized Vietnamese with a divided heart and mind. Nguyen's skill in portraying this sort of ambivalent personality compares favorably with masters like Conrad, Greene, and le Carre. . . . Both thriller and social satire. . . . In its final chapters,The Sympathizer becomes an absurdist tour de force that might have been written by a Kafka or Genet.'-Philip Caputo,New York Times Book Review (cover review)'This is more than a fresh perspective on a familiar subject. [The Sympathizer] is intelligent, relentlessly paced and savagely funny . . . The voice of the double-agent narrator, caustic yet disarmingly honest, etches itself on the memory.'-Wall Street Journal (WSJ's Best Books of 2015)'Extraordinary . . . Surely a new classic of war fiction. . . . [Nguyen] has wrapped a cerebral thriller around a desperate expat story that confronts the existential dilemmas of our age. . . . Laced with insight on the ways nonwhite people are rendered invisible in the propaganda that passes for our pop culture. . . . I haven't read anything since Orwell'sNineteen Eighty-Four that illustrates so palpably how a patient tyrant, unmoored from all humane constraint, can reduce a man's mind to liquid.'-Washington Post'The great achievement ofThe Sympathizer is that it gives the Vietnamese a voice and demands that we pay attention. Until now, it's been largely a one-sided conversation-or at least that's how it seems in American popular culture . . . We've never had a story quite like this one before. . . . [Nguyen] has a great deal to say and a knowing, playful, deeply intelligent voice . . . There are so many passages to admire. Mr. Nguyen is a master of the telling ironic phrase and the biting detail, and the book pulses with Catch-22-style absurdities.'-New York Times'Beautifully written and meaty . . . really compelling. I had that kid-like feeling of being inside the book.'-Claire Messud,Boston GlobeThrilling in its virtuosity, as in its masterly exploitation of the espionage-thriller genre,The Sympathizer was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and has come to be considered one of the greatest of Vietnam War novels . . . The book's (unnamed) narrator speaks in an audaciously postmodernist voice, echoing not only Vladimir Nabokov and Ralph Ellison but the Dostoyevsky ofNotes from the Underground." - Joyce Carol Oates,New Yorker "Gleaming and uproarious, a dark comedy of confession filled with charlatans, delusionists and shameless opportunists . . .The Sympathizer, like Graham Greene'sThe Quiet American, examines American intentions, often mixed with hubris, benevolence and ineptitude, that lead the country into conflict." - Los Angeles Times "Both a riveting spy novel and a study in identity." - Entertainment Weekly 'This debut is a page-turner (read: everybody will finish) that makes you reconsider the Vietnam War (read: everyone will have an opinion) . . . Nguyen's darkly comic novel offers a point of view about American culture that we've rarely seen.'-Oprah.com (Oprah's Book Club Suggestions)'The novel's best parts are painful, hilarious exposures of white tone-deafness . . . [the] satire is delicious.'-New Yorker'The Sympathizer reads as part literary historical fiction, part espionage thriller and part satire. American perceptions of Asians serve as some of the book's most deliciously tart commentary . . . Nguyen knows of what he writes.'-Los Angeles Times'Sparkling and audacious . . . Unique and startling . . . Nguyen's prose is often like a feverish, frenzied dream, a profuse and lively stream of images sparking off the page. . . . Nguyen can be wickedly funny. . . . [His] narrator has an incisive take on Asian-American history and what it means to be a nonwhite American. . . . this remarkable, rollicking read by a Vietnamese immigrant heralds an exciting new voice in American literature.'-Seattle Times'Stunned, amazed, impressed. [The Sympathizer is] so skillfully and brilliantly executed that I cannot believe this is a first novel. (I should add jealous to my emotions.) Upends our notions of the Vietnam novel.'-Chicago Tribune'A very special, important, brilliant novel . . . Amazing . . . I don't say brilliant about a lot of books, but this is a brilliant book . . . A fabulous book . . . that everyone should read.'-Nancy Pearl, KUOW.org'Dazzling . . . I've read scads of Vietnam War books, butThe Sympathizer has an exciting quality I haven't encountered . . . A fascinating exploration of personal identity, cultural identity, and what it means to sympathize with two sides at once.'-John Powers,Fresh Air, NPR (Books I Wish I'd Reviewed)'Powerful and evocative . . . Gripping.'-San Francisco Chronicle'Welcome a unique new voice to the literary chorus. . . . [The Sympathizer] is, among other things, a character-driven thriller, a political satire, and a biting historical account of colonization and revolution. It dazzles on all fronts.'-Cleveland Plain Dealer'[Nguyen's] books perform an optic tilt about Vietnam and what America did there as profound as Ralph Ellison'sInvisible Man and Toni Morrison'sBeloved were to the legacy of racism and slavery.'-John Freeman,Literary Hub'For those who have been waiting for the great Vietnamese American Vietnam War novel, this is it. More to the point: This is a great American Vietnam War novel. . . . It is the last word (I hope) on the horrors of the Vietnamese re-education camps that our allies were sentenced to when we left them swinging in the wind.'-Vietnam Veterans of America"What a story . . . [An] absorbing, elegantly written book . . . If you are an American, of any culture or color, you will benefit from reading this book which offers, in exquisite thought and phrase, the multi-layered experience of a war most Americans have blotted out of consciousness, suppressed, or willfully ignored. I've been waiting to read this book for decades." - Alice Walker, author ofThe Color Purple 'Magisterial. A disturbing, fascinating and darkly comic take on the fall of Saigon and its aftermath, and a powerful examination of guilt and betrayal.The Sympathizer is destined to become a classic and redefine the way we think about the Vietnam War and what it means to win and to lose.'-T.C. Boyle'Trapped in endless civil war, 'the man who has two minds' tortures and is tortured as he tries to meld the halves of his country and of himself. Viet Thanh Nguyen accomplishes this integration in a magnificent feat of storytelling.The Sympathizer is a novel of literary, historical, and political importance.'-Maxine Hong Kingston, author ofThe Fifth Book of Peace'It is a strong, strange and liberating joy to read this book, feeling with each page that a broken world is being knitted back together, once again whole and complete. As far as I am concerned, Viet Thanh Nguyen'sThe Sympathizer-both a great American novel and a great Vietnamese novel-will close the shelf on the literature of the Vietnam War.'-Bob Shacochis, author ofThe Woman Who Lost Her Soul'Read this novel with care; it is easy to read, wry, ironic, wise, and captivating, but it could change not only your outlook on the Vietnam War, but your outlook on what you believe about politics and ideology in general. It does what the best of literature does, expands your consciousness beyond the limitations of your body and individual circumstances.'-Karl Marlantes, author ofMatterhorn andWhat It Is Like to Go to War'Not only does Viet Thanh Nguyen bring a rare and authentic voice to the body of American literature generated by the Vietnam War, he has created a book that transcends history and politics and nationality and speaks to the enduring theme of literature: the universal quest for self, for identity.The Sympathizer is a stellar debut by a writer of depth and skill.'-Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author ofA Good Scent from a Strange Mountain'The Sympathizer is a remarkable and brilliant book. By turns harrowing, and cut through by shards of unexpected and telling humor, this novel gives us the conflict in Vietnam, and its aftermath, in a way that is deeply truthful, and vitally important.'-Vincent Lam, author ofBloodletting and Miraculous Cures andThe Headmaster's Wager'I think I'd have to go all the way back to Nabokov's Humbert Humbert to find the last narrative voice that so completely conked me over the head and took me prisoner. Nguyen and his unnamed protagonist certainly have made a name for themselves with one of the smartest, darkest, funniest books you'll read this year.'-David Abrams, author ofFobbit'Audaciously and vividly imagined. A compelling read.'-Andrew X. Pham, author ofCatfish and Mandala'Nguyen's cross-grained protagonist exposes the hidden costs in both countries of America's tragic Asian misadventure. Nguyen's probing literary art illuminates how Americans failed in their political and military attempt to remake Vietnam-but then succeeded spectacularly in shrouding their failure in Hollywood distortions. Compelling-and profoundly unsettling.'-Booklist (starred review)'A closely written novel of after-the-war Vietnam, when all that was solid melted into air. As Graham Greene and Robert Stone have taught us, on the streets of Saigon, nothing is as it seems. . . . Think Alan Furst meets Elmore Leonard, and you'll capture Nguyen at his most surreal . . . Both chilling and funny, and a worthy addition to the library of first-rate novels about the Vietnam War.'-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)'[An] astonishing first novel . . . Nguyen's novel enlivens debate about history and human nature, and his narrator has a poignant often mindful voice.'-Publishers Weekly (starred, boxed review)'Breathtakingly cynical, the novel has its hilarious moments . . . Ultimately a meditation on war, political movements, America's imperialist role, the CIA, torture, loyalty, and one's personal identity, this is a powerful, thought-provoking work. It's hard to believe this effort . . . is a debut. This is right up there with Denis Johnson'sTree of Smoke."-Library Journal (starred review)'I cannot remember the last time I read a novel whose protagonist I liked so much. Smart, funny, and self-critical, with a keen sense of when to let a story speak for itself (and when to gloss it with commentary). He's someone I would like to have a beer with, despite the fact that his life's work is the betrayal of his friends. . . . [Nguyen] proves a gifted and bold satirist.'-Barnes & Noble Review'Riveting . . .The Sympathizer is not only a masterly espionage novel, but also a seminal work of 21st century American fiction. Giving voice to the Vietnamese experience in the United States, Nguyen offers profound insights into the legacy of war and the politically and racially charged atmosphere of the 1970s.'-BookReporter'[A] shimmering debut novel . . . Leaping with lyrical verve, each page turns to a unique and hauntingly familiar voice that refuses to let us forget what people are capable of doing to each other.'-Asian American Writers' Workshop'Arresting . . . One of the best pieces of fiction about the Vietnam war-and by a Vietnamese. . . . Stunning . . . Could it be that Nguyen has captured the shape of the devolution of war itself, from grand ambition to human ruin? . . . One of the finest novels of the Vietnam War published in recent years.'-The Daily Beast'[An] intriguing confessional . . . [a] tour de force . . . So taken was I by the first quarter of the book that I believed myself to be reading an actual confession . . . The character himself . . . and the quality of the narration seized me, leaving me almost breathless in my pursuit of an ending.'-Sewanee Review'Tremendously funny, with a demanding verbal texture . . . Both tender and a bit of a romp, the book reminded me of how big books can be.'-Guardian (Best Books of 2015)'Astounding . . . [The unnamed narrator] will be compared to the morally exhausted spies, intelligence officers and double agents of Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, and John le Carre.'-Toronto Star "