Book Club The Sympathizer by Vietnam Thanh Nguyen

the-sympathizerThe Sympathizer by Vietnam Thanh Nguyen

“The Sympathizer follows a nameless spy who has infiltrated the South Vietnamese army and flees with its remnants to America. His mission: report on their efforts to continue their lost war. As the aide to a general who refuses to admit defeat, he observes the struggles of the Vietnamese refugees to survive in a melancholic Los Angeles. Among them, the general believes, are communist agents. So our spy’s double life continues, hunting communists while helping the general organize a covert army. Their mission: to invade Vietnam and take it back.”
Big turnout at book club this month! Always after the long summer break.
This book is extremely well written. The lovely language, such as “I had developed feline feelings of both dependency and resentment” fills each page. My advice to the reader is that this book should be read slowly and patiently to appreciate the subtleties.
We all appreciated the emotional impact of the method of writing style. The book starts off as a confession, written as telling, with no quotes for conversations. Many things are kept secret, such as who is our antagonist confession to?  Then, at the emotional apex, the author switches it up, using a screenplay effect. For me this actually took the story to a different level-one step removed, illustrating the state of mind our character was in after the deprivation and torture.
Don’t want to spoil it for any readers, but the apex, the internal crisis….the man who had done nothing. Nguyen had brought me so far, engaged me in the emotions so well that I felt intense guilt at reading those lines. “This is me” I cried out.
I came away with the deep emotion that nothing is more precious than independence and freedom.
I also decided I needed to watch Apocalypse Now again.
Ratings from the group fell between 4.5 and 5.0. One member stated “This is the best book I have read in years.” We are certainly planning on reading more of Professor Nguyen’s books.