The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Sympathizer is a beautiful and powerful piece of writing. It’s a Pulitzer-Prize winning debut from Viet Thanh Nguyen. Given the amount of critical support it’s received (The New York TimesThe Washington Post, and The Guardian), I won’t say too much.

Just that Nguyen does brilliantly creating a world that explores the inner dimensions of personalities and relationships, but is fundamentally linked to the broader world and its conflicts (in this case, the Vietnam war). This is particularly evident in how he paints a complex character, split between two worlds (Vietnamese and American).

That skill and writing ability has led to a number of comparisons to Grahame Greene. Nguyen himself seems very aware of those echoes – he has the protagonist complete a senior thesis on ‘Myth and Symbol in the Literature of Graham Greene.’

It’s a good book, and worth reading.


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