A late post! I read The Sympathizer in May of last year. I had intended to continue my "What I Read This Month" series and add this to the lineup, but the end of last May became very very busy for me. I'd probably just move on to the next, but I think it's a super important book! So here are my (brief) thoughts on Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer. Thanks for reading :)
May 2017 -- I picked up The Sympathizer because 1) I wanted to read more books by Asian American authors and 2) it won a Pulitzer and seemed important. I didn't really know what it was about until I started reading the back cover and, I must admit, I was a little intimidated. It seems very serious. The narrative follows a communist double-agent who has infiltrated the Vietnamese military. When I started reading, I realized that I've never read anything that I could relate to so much in my life despite the distance between me and Nguyen's narrator/time period. Most of the narrative takes place in Los Angeles in the 70s, and Ngyuen makes the subject matter accessible with his smart and sarcastic narrator who is navigating America as a person of half-Vietnamese, half-French descent. The narrator is never named (as far as I know), but his voice is one that speaks in intelligent and insightful ways about the harsh realities of being an outsider in America (or appearing to be an outsider), as well as subjects of freedom, sacrifice, and happiness. The insights are relentless and hit me hard when I read them. If you haven't already, you must read this book.