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The Sympathizer
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
A profound, startling, and beautifully crafted debut novel, The Sympathizer is the story of a man of two minds, someone whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties. It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause. A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.
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Tonton
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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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‘

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IuliaC
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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.

Read4life Happy birthday, @IuliaC 🎂 3mo
IuliaC @Read4life thank you very much! 😊 3mo
56 likes2 comments
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cariashley
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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! 🇪🇸

BarbaraBB I love Madrid! Enjoy 🇪🇸 4mo
cariashley @BarbaraBB such a fantastic city, I wish I had more than a few nights there! It was a (very) quick hop across the pond for my best friend‘s birthday (a big one) ☺️ 4mo
BarbaraBB Nice! 4mo
50 likes3 comments
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Caitlin89
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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.

SamAnne Loved this one. The Committed is on my TBR list. 6mo
IuliaC Great review! 3mo
13 likes2 comments
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perfectlywinged
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Finally getting around to this novel. I don‘t normally like stories centered around war but the writing is pulling me in (it‘s so good it‘s forcing me to not speed read!).

BkClubCare This really had an impact on me. 👏 8mo
16 likes1 comment
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Valiseb
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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While it is better to be loved than hated, it is also far better to be hated than ignored.

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bell7
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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!

20 likes1 stack add
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Blaire
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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.

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socprof
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen

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.

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vivastory
Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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#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👇

vivastory but it's a wonderful portrait of a thoroughly flawed character who the reader begins to sympathize with. 2y
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Bookish.SAM
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Mehso-so

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

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vivastory
Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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👇

vivastory dark humor & brio. I found it to be absolutely remarkable & a deserved award winner I will def be reading the follow-up over the next month or so. I should also note that this has been on my TBR literally for years. Having read it & loved it. I'm so thrilled that not only I finally checked it off, but that other readers are reading it as well. I checked my local library & all of their copies were checked out & there was a holds list! (edited) 2y
TEArificbooks The sequel just came out, so that might explain the uptick on library holds 2y
sprainedbrain Great review, great book! 2y
vivastory @sprainedbrain Thanks! I can't wait to read more of his work. 2y
Blaire Yes, I also noticed the similarities of that section to interior Chinatown and also Hollywood‘s treatment of Asian actors. 2y
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vivastory
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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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".

BarbaraBB It is as if I‘m reading Interior indeed. Is it as good? 2y
vivastory @BarbaraBB I'm loving it so far. I'm about halfway through, so a bit too soon for a verdict but I'm *very* impressed by it so far!! 2y
BarbaraBB That‘s good to know. I enjoyed his 2y
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vivastory @BarbaraBB That sounds good. Added to my TBR. I've been in the mood for stories lately, so I think I'll check it out soon! 2y
BarbaraBB If you‘re in the mood for stories please check out this one, a 5⭐️read for me 2y
vivastory @BarbaraBB That sounds great! Will definitely check it out 2y
53 likes6 comments
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vivastory
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Made the mistake of starting a new book when I should have gone to sleep. Oh, well. That's what coffee is for. I think I'm going to really like this one...

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KatieDid927
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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.

TheBookHippie I agree with everything you said. It was hard to read. Necessary. 2y
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Floresj
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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.

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PNWBookseller85
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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.

vivastory I almost started this the other day 2y
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RiaWritten
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Panpan

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!

RidgewayGirl Did you have the audio version? 2y
RiaWritten @RidgewayGirl Yes I did. The performance was good. My issues were with the text. 2y
SamAnne I really enjoyed it but it has been a couple years. I liked the dark humor. Looking forward to the sequel that just came out. 2y
9 likes3 comments
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PNWBookseller85
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Me and my reading buddy. Nothing more magical than a kid learning to love reading.

Crazeedi You rock!! This is so wonderful 2y
Simona Yes, I think so too ... magical moments discovering new worlds❣️ 2y
Tera66 That beautiful smile! Love to see kids happily reading! 2y
Reggie This is a great pic! 2y
107 likes4 comments
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JenP
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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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.

JenReadsAlot I'm in a long distance relationship as well! Same country but still a challenge!! 2y
JenP @JenReadsAlot it is. Traveling anywhere right now is challenging. Hopefully things open up soon - in a safe way 2y
BarbaraBB That must be frustrating indeed but it also sounds quite romantic! Does he live in Canada? 2y
JenP @BarbaraBB Norway. Don‘t know why I couldn‘t fall for someone within driving distance 😂 2y
BarbaraBB Norway! That is wonderful but also complicated. I hope you both will be able to travel soon 🤍 2y
40 likes5 comments
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Bookwormjillk
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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

Butterfinger Eew🤣 2y
BarbaraBB Haha that is gross 🤢 2y
Librarybelle 😂 Good question! 2y
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Texreader Ewww! 2y
Crazeedi Kinda glad I didn't pick this one, I looked at it... 2y
Kelly_the_Bookish_Sidekick I've witnessed baby boys who pee in their parents' faces during a diaper change, so it's possible to know. 🤣 2y
Bookwormjillk @Kelly_the_Bookish_Sidekick fair point 😂😂😂 2y
Apostcardlife @Kelly_the_Bookish_Sidekick that was what I was coming here to hypothesize! 😂 2y
Kelly_the_Bookish_Sidekick @Apostcardlife It was the only reason I could think of! 😂 2y
60 likes2 stack adds9 comments
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sprainedbrain
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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. 😋

rachelm Love the audio version of this too! I got to read the second book, out soon. It‘s harrowing. 2y
sprainedbrain @rachelm I‘m planning to get it. Harrowing good? 2y
rachelm Yes. It‘s different— lots of it is like a gangster story? I kept “hearing” it in my head in the audiobook narrator voice and I think it would have been ever better that way. 2y
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sprainedbrain @rachelm Good to know! The library has the ebook so I will get on the list. 😉 2y
Butterfinger Great review in my Unprofessional opinion. 2y
sprainedbrain @Butterfinger haha! Thanks 😘 2y
Reynosa8701 I love pho 😋 2y
Texreader Lovely review 2y
98 likes2 stack adds8 comments
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nelehelen
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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

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bam294
Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
Bailedbailed

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.

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Maria514626
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Holy moly! This book is gripping. It requires a careful read. The writing is intricate and the narrator speaks covertly.

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qchammer
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
Pickpick

A jarring glimpse into an incredibly intellectual mind fractured by uncertainty of self and nation. So good, so frightening, so smartly done.

bam294 Jarring is the word that captures this book! 2y
2 likes1 comment
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suvata
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Bailedbailed

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.”

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violabrain
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

Wow. Amazing. I was born after the Vietnam war, so what I know about it comes mostly from American popular culture. This seems like a really important book to help the US reckon with itself and what it did in and to Vietnam.

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canbku
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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New booook! Right after finishing The Mountains Sing, I'm digging right back in to the Vietnam War.

SamAnne So good. 2y
63 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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Creadnorthey
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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?

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gradcat
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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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!! 👩🏻‍🎓🐱♥️

BarbaraBB You‘ve made some great choices for these prompts! 3y
Cinfhen Congrats 🎊 You read some awesome books 🙌🏻💕 This is your #OfficialSecondQuarterEntry #Booked2020 #Spring 🌈🧡🌻😁📚 3y
gradcat @BarbaraBB Thanks Barbara! Thanks for stopping by! I haven‘t “seen” you much lately. ♥️ 3y
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gradcat @Cinfhen Thanks so much for saying that!! You‘re way too nice!! And thanks for recording my entry! ♥️♥️♥️ 3y
BarbaraBB No, that‘s right! I must change that, I always enjoy your posts! 3y
gradcat @BarbaraBB Why, thank you! That‘s very nice of you to say! ♥️♥️♥️ 3y
59 likes6 comments
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gradcat
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

#ReadWithMrBook #DebutNovel
#Booked2020 #PanAsianAuthor

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 ⬇️

gradcat ⬆️ “commandant.” In a confession, the narrator tells the reader the story of how he came to be in this predicament. He is constantly experiencing a duality of sorts, a doubling that stems from his birth. The narrator has a French Catholic priest for a father (whom he hates), and an unwed Vietnamese mother (whom he loves). Also, he went to university in the United States, where he learned to speak English better than most native speakers. He ⬇️ 3y
gradcat ⬆️ grew up with two boys who became his friends for life, only one (Bon) is devoted to keeping South Vietnam free from the Viet Cong army; the other (Man) a radical Communist devotee working underground in a spy network. This latter has become our narrator‘s handler, as he works as a mole with the South Vietnamese cause. All of this is unknown to Bon. This will, naturally, create difficulties of a far different sort than mere imprisonment. ⬇️ (edited) 3y
gradcat ⬆️ I hate to cut this off, but I fear I could go on and on about this book, so I‘ll stop here. If you like tragicomedy with a thriller atmosphere, you will love this book. ♥️👩🏻‍🎓🐱 3y
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Cortg Yay! I read this last month 😀 3y
gradcat @Cortg Did you love it? I did...and it would take several pages for me to try to explain what all went on in this book—so good! 📖 ♥️ 3y
Cinfhen Another brilliant review and a book that has been sitting on my shelf far too long!!! Need to finally pick it up!!! 3y
Cortg @gradcat I did love it because it‘s a great story and something different. The writing style took me a bit to get into though as there is no emotion and no real conversation. It being written like a giant confession of sort of took me a bit but I eventually overcame it and loved the book! I thought it was done in a very clever way. 😀 3y
gradcat @Cinfhen I truly think that you would like it, and like it a LOT, so if you find the time, you should give it a go. Thanks for your (always) kind words! ♥️ 3y
gradcat @Cortg I know exactly what you mean. Still, I think its greatness lies in how different it is—I‘ve never read anything like it! 3y
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Cortg
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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

JoScho Look at that face! 3y
Cortg @JoScho He‘s such a ham! 🐶 3y
52 likes2 comments
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Cortg
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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“I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces.” #FirstLineFridays @ShyBookOwl

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shaynarae
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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

Mitch Modelled beautifully! 3y
shaynarae @Mitch Thank you 😸 3y
32 likes2 comments
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Cortg
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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I only managed 36 pages ALL WEEK! I‘ve got a few things on my to-do list and once I knock that out, I‘m hoping to dive in. Concentration is not my thing these days.

TheLibrarian I can relate. Hope you can find more time to read and are able to. 3y
AlaMich You and everyone else. ☹️ 3y
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Cortg
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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I walked around all weekend with this book but never opened it. I started the 1st chapter last night. I‘m still on the 1st chapter. I have a feeling this will take me forever and a day to get through. My mind doesn‘t want to turn off.

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Sethomas00
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
Mehso-so

Vietnam conflict, very political. The writing felt sharp and nearly heartless, mirroring the separation of friends, families, and communities during the Vietnam war.

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jennw1212
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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I'm so close to finishing this book. Really like it but it's taking awhile;)

cherinium It took me forever to read this book. Ultimately, I thought it was great, but it is not a quick or easy read. 3y
jennw1212 I just finished it. Definitely not an easy read but I agree, it was great. 3y
12 likes1 stack add2 comments
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jennw1212
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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runswithscissors007
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

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 ....)

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runswithscissors007
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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This seems to be happening a lot. Things I‘m reading bump up against one another. The stories are historically adjacent. Is it synchronicity, serendipity? Is there a word for this? Lol! (I love a cookbook with stories!)

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Amtl
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen

So good

2 likes1 stack add
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Chavelafab
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
Pickpick

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

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Hidie
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Time for some "serious" reads....

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Tiltedwhirled
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
Pickpick

The intricate plot and form of the novel (it is written as if the main character is giving his confession) make for interesting and gut wrenching reading

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Emilymdxn
The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
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Pickpick

So deserving of the Pulitzer. I‘d never read anything from this perspective on the Vietnam War before. It pulled apart a lot of the mythology around Vietnam (in the west at least) and made me feel like I was looking at it for the first time. Very difficult to read at times, but it wouldn‘t have been as meaningful if it wasn‘t and I‘m glad it made me so uncomfortable.

A particularly timely and painful book for the day Boris Johnson takes office.

BarbaraBB I feel you. 💔 4y
83 likes7 stack adds1 comment