diaCRITICS editor Viet Thanh Nguyen’s debut novel The Sympathizer is coming out in April. Win a free copy on Goodreads!
Library Journal, in a starred review, describes The Sympathizer as “breathtakingly cynical,” “powerful, thought-provoking work,” “hard to believe this effort…is a debut,” “right up there with Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke.”
Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review, calls The Sympathizer “chilling and funny, and a worthy addition to the library of first-rate novels about the Vietnam War.”
Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, says that this is an “astonishing first novel” that “enlivens debate about history and human nature” and features a “poignant, often mirthful voice.”
Publishers Weekly also calls The Sympathizer one of the “spring’s most-anticipated debut novels.”
Find out how to win a free copy on The Sympathizer‘s Goodreads page.
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From the Grove Press page for The Sympathizer:
“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
A profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel, The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, someone whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties. In dialogue with but diametrically opposed to the narratives of the Vietnam War that have preceded it, this novel offers an important and unfamiliar new perspective on the war: that of a conflicted communist sympathizer.
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. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause. Viet Thanh Nguyen’s astonishing novel takes us inside the mind of this double agent, a man whose lofty ideals necessitate his betrayal of the people closest to him. A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.
“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’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
“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
“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
“Audaciously and vividly imagined. A compelling read.” —Andrew X. Pham, author of Catfish and Mandala