Friday, February 19, 2016

The Sympathizer (by Viet Thanh Nguyen)

Holy shit this book is good.

I read it because it is in the Tournament of Books and also ticks off one of the boxes in the Read Harder Challenge (Viet Thanh Nguyen is an author from Southeast Asia). Two for the price of one! I wasn't sure what to expect except that I knew it was about a Vietnamese-American spy and set during the Vietnam War.

This is so erudite, so well-written, so funny and tragic and entertaining and transporting. The observations of Vietnam and America will absolutely change the way you see the country and the war. You will also never watch Apocalypse Now the same way again. I highlighted dozens of quotes as I was reading and I immediately recommended it emphatically to half the people I know.

I haven't read all the Tournament of Books shortlist (by a long shot) but this is absolutely my sleeper pick to win it all. A Little Life will be hard to beat but The Sympathizer, to me, is even better. It's as good as The Orphan Master's Son, if not better.  Highest recommendation.

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