The Sympathizer: A Novel

Category: Book
By (author): Nguyen, Viet Thanh
Subject:  FICTION / Asian American
  FICTION / Literary
  FICTION / Mystery & Detective / General
  FICTION / Thrillers / Espionage
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic
Published: April 2016
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 384
Size: 8.30in x 8.19in x 1.18in
Our Price:
$ 22.95
Availability:
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*One of 2015's most highly acclaimed debuts, The Sympathizer is a Vietnam War novel unlike any other. The narrator, one of the most arresting of recent fiction, is a man of two minds and divided loyalties, a half-French half-Vietnamese communist sleeper agent living in America after the end of the war. It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. But, unbeknownst to the general, this captain is an undercover operative for the communists, who instruct him to add his own name to the list and accompany the general to America. As the general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, the captain continues to observe the group, sending coded letters to an old friend who is now a higher-up within the communist administration. Under suspicion, the captain is forced to contemplate terrible acts in order to remain undetected. And when he falls in love, he finds that his lofty ideals clash violently with his loyalties to the people close to him, a contradiction that may prove unresolvable. A gripping spy novel, a moving story of love and friendship, and a layered portrayal of a young man drawn into extreme politics, The Sympathizer examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.
Review Quote*Praise for The Sympathizer : A National Bestseller Winner of the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction Winner of the 2015 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Winner of the 2015-2016 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (Adult Fiction) Finalist for the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award Shortlisted for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction Finalist for the 2016 Edgar Award for Best First Novel Finalist for the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Mystery/Thriller) One of the New York Times ' 100 Notable Books of 2015 Named a Best Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Kansas City Star, Orlando Weekly, Daily Beast, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Guardian, National Post, MPR News, Amazon, Slate, Flavorwire, Entropy, Quartz, and Globe and Mail '[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's Nineteen 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 of The 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 Globe '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, but The 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 '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 '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 of The 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's The 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 of The 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 of Matterhorn and What 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 of A 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 of Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures and The 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 of Fobbit 'Audaciously and vividly imagined. A compelling read.'- Andrew X. Pham, author of Catfish 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's Tree 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 'An important new perspective on the Vietnam War . . . The Sympathizer will both startle and grip you.' -BuzzFeed 'An early frontrunner for debut novel of the year, The Sympathizer considers the fall of Saigon in 1975 through the eyes of The Captain. It's as much a spy novel of political intrigue as it is an examination of Communism, the CIA, and torture.' -Flavorwire (10 Must-Read Books for April) '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 "
Biographical NoteViet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. His stories have appeared in Best New American Voices, TriQuarterly, Narrative, and the Chicago Tribune and he is the author of the academic book Race and Resistance. He teaches English and American Studies at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles.