The Sympathizer - Viet Thanh Nguyen

I originally selected this book from NetGalley because I saw it the same day my husband asked me to get it for him. Fast forward a year or so, and he still hasn’t read it, and I felt guilty getting an advance copy without reviewing it. Well, not really so guilty. For one thing, the list of awards this book has won, starting with the Pulitzer and ending with the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction, and including a whole bunch in between, makes me pretty sure it’s done ok without my meager endorsement. Despite this, I forge ahead and offer my opinion, in this case, consenting.


Seriously, there are over 10,000 reviews on Goodreads for this book. I have not read them all (or any, in fact), but I am fairly certain I may not have a whole lot of new ideas to bring to the table, so I will keep it short. This should be required reading for every high school student, much as I hate to use the word required. This is the Vietnam War after the fall of Saigon, with violence that made me weep, culpability that shamed me, and an untenable situation of a “man of two minds” — both patriot and spy — that made me understand the desperation and impossibility of it all. Just read it, if anything else, you will feel more human and yes, a little tiny bit smarter.