BOOK REVIEW: THE SYMPATHIZER
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer offers an interesting critique of the Vietnam War’s aftermath, holding both the United States and the Vietnamese people responsible.
The narrator is a communist spy who has been imprisoned by the Viet Cong. He has been forced to confess to sins committed against the revolution. Through this confession, the narrator reveals that he is a man who embodies a certain duality. Being half-French and half-Vietnamese, he is considered an outcast. Despite looking Vietnamese, he is not considered one. Having studied in America, he is familiar with the ways of the Western world. He is a communist who understands individualism. He is someone who lives on the fringes of society not knowing where he belongs. The Sympathizer illustrates how war and conflict divides both people and countries. It reveals how people are capable of showing compassion and yet are also capable of acting with absolute savagery.
Nguyen wrote in the book, “They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented.” And as an author, he has successfully represented the misrepresented.
The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2016.
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