As a lover of historical fiction, I couldn’t wait to lay my hands on Viet Thanh Nguyen‘s novel- The Sympathizer. I don’t have an extensive knowledge of Vietnam war, apart from couple of one-sided Hollywood movies. So this novel was enlightening.
The Sympathizer is the debut novel by Vietnamese American professor Viet Thanh Nguyen. Published in 2015, this best-selling novel won many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
The novel tells the story of a Vietnamese army captain, who is the narrator of the story and he remains nameless throughout the book. He is only known as the ‘Captain’.
The captain is a man of divided loyalties and dual personality. The novel starts with these words-“I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds.”
The novel was intriguing from the start till the end. This psychologically complex book is about the Vietnam war and its aftermath. It is also a story about love and friendship.
The Sympathizer is a beautifully crafted work and it is a must-read for all the fans of spy and historical fiction. This book is savagely funny, disturbing (especially in the last part), tense and very gripping.
Few of my favorite quotes from The Sympathizer:
- “That is what revolutionaries do. We sacrifice ourselves to save others.”
- “Disarming an idealist was easy.”
- “Every paranoid person is right at least once, said the tall sergeant. When he dies.”
- “Music and singing keeps us alive, give us hope. If we can feel, we know we can live.”
- “Wars never die, I said. They just go to sleep.”
- “So it was that we soaped ourselves in sadness and we rinsed ourselves with hope, and for all that we believed almost every rumor we heard, almost all of us refused to believe that our nation was dead.”
- If youth was not wasted, how could it be youth?”
- “Nothing is ever so expensive as what is offered for free.”
- “While it is better to be loved than hated, it is also far better to be hated than ignored.”
- “It is always better to admire the best among our foes rather than the worst among our friends.”
- “Besides my conscience, my liver was the most abused part of my body.”
- “…..nothing is more precious than Independence and freedom….”