A very enlightening read.
Update on the HBO production: teaser trailer and Robert Downey playing four roles.
This will be so good to see!
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/tv/tv-news/sandra-oh-trio-joins-hbo-the-sympat... - Sandra Oh Among Trio Joining HBO‘s ‘The Sympathizer‘
I never imagined I would enjoy so much a novel focusing on the cruelty and contradictions of war. It is packed with all the ingredients to keep the reader glued until the end. The political and social issues are magnificently singled out by the superb writing and a blend of spy fiction and dark comedy. The narrator's duality (in ethnicity, education and loyalty) are an immense source of both internal and external conflict, strength and weakness.
Very good and completely understand why it won a Pulitzer, but I found it hard to focus on. I think that‘s more about me and having a lot of stuff going on though. Need to stick to some lighter reads for a while.
This is the lovely view from my hotel room in Madrid, where I got to spend last weekend! 🇪🇸
This is an exceptional novel. I detect notes of Ishiguro's Remains of the Day, a flavor reminiscent of Ian McEwan's wry observation and dry, bitter humor, a dash of Shelley's Frankenstein (what of the monster that made the monster?), and about 20 distinct vocabulary words I have never read or heard in my life.
Also, I love its handling of dialogue. Love.
This is an impressive, insightful, dark, and surprisingly funny book.
Our unnamed narrator begins with the fall of Saigon and the escape of South Vietnamese refugees to America, where he lives and works while working as a spy for the Viet Cong. This is a book in which no single word is wasted, its meaning important and often double, beginning with the title itself. As a result, I'm rating it a pick even though the violence, while fitting, was too much for me at times. Great book club pick!
Told as a confession of a VC spy embedded with the South Vietnamese army, the story is complex and nearly all of the characters engaged in awful acts as part of war. First book I‘ve read about the Vietnam war from a Vietnamese perspective. Nuanced look at the war, American culture, and loyalty.
I picked it up because I remember it getting a lot of good reviews. Those were warranted. The book is written in the style of a confession from a VC spy who worked for the South Vietnamese military, gets into the US as a refugee to keep a close eye on his general boss, and gets sent back to Vietnam on a supposed mission to fight the victorious North. Things get awry after that. It's a compelling narrative from a Vietnamese perspective.
#midyearfaves Day 9 One of the unexpected byways that my reading life this year has taken are books that deal with the Vietnam War. This subject was addressed in 2 of my fave graphic memoirs of the year: Thi Bui's “The Best We Could Do“ & Derf Backderf's “Kent State.“ Nguyen's novel, featuring an unnamed Communist double agent who immigrated to the states after the fall of Saigon, is not only a fascinating examination of the politics of the time👇
Thank god for no late fees at the library!
This took me forever to get through & I‘m just not sure why.
The subject matter was definitely of interest and the dark humour was up my alley but every time I picked it up I never got far🤷🏻♀️
I largely grabbed it because I came across the follow-up (The Committed) & figured I should read the first…since I struggle with this one I was unsure about the 2nd but so far The Committed is going better 4 me
Nguyen's debut novel is narrated by a Communist double agent after the fall of Saigon. The unnamed narrator offers a panoramic view of Vietnamese & immigrant life in America. At one point the narrator becomes involved as a consultant for a big budget war movie & that section, a not inconsiderable portion of the book, reminded me of Yu's Interior Chinatown. Nguyen's depictions of wartime atrocities & international espionage are interwoven with👇
Although it's narrated by a double agent for the Communist Party after the fall of Saigon, I'm genuinely surprised by some of the crossover between this & Yu's "Interior Chinatown".
This book is very dense and layered. The Vietnam war is not usually one of my favorite topics to explore, but I‘d now say this is the quintessential artful depiction of that era and the fallout. Yes, the author tackles the whitewashing of history, but he also presents the conflicting allegiances of the Vietnamese diaspora in a deep and fascinating way. I didn‘t always love the MC or every choice that was made, but this is a must read.
In the first 1/2 of the book, Nguyen gives a master class in superb writing, explanations of being Asian in the US and Paris, and being an unreliable narrator- and was a solid 5 book. The second half of the book spun out of control- still excellent quotes, but the plot become unrealistic and streams of consciousness lost me. On average, this was good with the first 1/2 shining brightly.
What a whirlwind of ideas. A poignant, at times hilarious, satire. If you haven‘t read this, now is the right time. I don‘t usually underline or mark pages in my books, but I couldn‘t stop myself with this one. This is a true masterpiece.
I honestly had a pretty miserable time reading this book, in spite of it having a lot of fascinating history and culture in it. Did anyone read it and disagree? I'd love to hear why!
Book #3. Being in a long distance relationship during covid times when neither of us can travel into the other‘s country has sucked. But finding a partner with whom to read and discuss books is priceless. We alternate book picks and this month is my pick.
This is a pick although I think I would have done better reading it in print instead of audio (darn 2 for 1 sale!) I thought this book was illuminating and darkly funny although certain phrases took me out of the story. The beer smelled and tasted like baby piss. Really? HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT?? #FoodAndLit #ReadingAsia #Vietnam
I‘ve owned The Sympathizer on audio since it came out 😳 so it was my natural choice for #FoodAndLit this month.
The book is great: clever and funny, extremely well-written, thought provoking and engaging. My mind was little bit blown by the end—this is a Pulitzer winner that deserved the Pulitzer in my very unprofessional opinion. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
Rather than cooking, I used this as an excuse to order takeout Pho Chin, which was also great. 😋
It took me a little bit to get used to the writing. But once I did, this novel blew me away. So incredibly smart and layered and funny, I absolutely loved this.
Full review: https://www.instagram.com/p/CKSo9mBATIu/?igshid=1wgmnmpls7hm2
I thought I'd read as many Pulitzer Prize winners as I could...this one was the first I had deep misgivings about.
The narrative style is totally unique and requires you to either pull apart your preconceived notions on war and trauma or get dragged down a really dark hole really quickly.
The narrator depersonalizes all the characters in such a way that you're either forced to align with the protagonist or give up having any empathy at all.
DNF = did not finish - not for me at this time
“Viet Thanh Nguyen‘s The Sympathizer brilliantly draws you in with the opening line: “I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces.” It‘s thrilling, rhythmic, and astonishing, as is the rest of Nguyen‘s enthralling portrayal of the Vietnam War. The narrator is an undercover communist agent posing as a captain in the Southern Vietnamese Army.”
This book hits the plot tarmac at a furious pace and keeps the twists and turns coming through what feels like a thriller-esque memoir. For fear of spoiling this exceptional read, I won‘t say more than the final twists take this book in a very different and contemplative direction- can division be reconciled?
Yay! #Booked2020 #Spring is officially put to bed!
1. Makes you LOL
2. Memoir about a Parent and child
3. Tartan Noir
4. Book about Genocide
5. Pan Asian Author
6. Animal on Cover
Great prompts, as usual, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading these, so thank you #Booked2020 folks!! 👩🏻🎓🐱♥️
This is going to go down as one of my favorite novels of all time, as well it should, considering all of the awards it garnered for its author (including a Pulitzer for fiction). But even with all of the buildup, I am sort of stunned at how much I do like this book. The time is mid-1970s, just at the fall of Saigon, and the unnamed narrator has been captured by someone he refers to as the ⬇️
The writing style of this book was different, and I really appreciate that, but it was HARD! Long paragraphs, little expression, and NO quotation marks since the story is told as a confession in prison. Strangely, the reader never finds out the character‘s name, which I think is kinda cool. He‘s basically telling his story as a spy and sympathizer during and after the Vietnam War. Overall, I liked it and I‘m glad I read it! #24B4Monday
Not knowing what this book was about when I picked it up, I fell into a literary historical fiction novel that explores the multi-faceted nature of identity. The more I think about it, the more I like it. Calling it a spy novel or a thriller seems misleading to me. If you‘re looking for something faster-paced with intrigue, try the Orphan Master‘s Son. #catsoflitsy
LOTS to think about. I would give it 4 1/2 -5 stars (out of 5). So many clever turns of phrases. It is written in the form of one long confession of a political prisoner. The observations of the Hollywood movie industry in the 80‘s and all of those Vietnam films seemed so brilliantly uncomfortably spot on. I definitely will re read this. (physical copy I can put post it notes in ....)
Very rich. Difficult to resume. Complex Cross-cultural relationships Asia US, post colonial, war and being a refugee, mixed race identity etc. What I think is an achievement is the tone of the novel which mixes grief and humour. Well worth it‘s prize. It opened my eyes to a different cultural political context