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The Sympathizer

Viet Thanh Nguyen

The hook of the whole book: “I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces.” I read this book months ago, and the feeling remaining inside my heart is “sad”. I feel sad for what the author called “boat people” who are forced to leave to faraway lands where they could not blend in, taking on a negative cast.


The Sympathizer is not an easy book. It is a story of a Vietnamese immigrant facing big questions of identity in the context of nationalism, race, and culture. Throughout his journey as a spy for the North Vietnamese Communist Party in the South Vietnamese Republic and in America, I sometimes cannot distinguish the supposed black-white boundary. The emotion fluctuation within the protagonist highlights the blurring line between right and wrong. His life as a double agent turns out to be on neither side at its core. It really made me feel sad about his fates, as well as my Vietnamese people fleeing their homeland for good.

Winter 2019

October 10, 2019 at 3:00:00 PM


novel, history, vietnam


The Sympathizer
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