The Sympathizer

Viet Thanh Nguyen

fiction historical
dark funny slow-paced

371 pages | first published 2015

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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dark 96%
challenging 60%
tense 52%
funny 50%
emotional 37%
reflective 32%
adventurous 24%
informative 24%
sad 18%
mysterious 9%


slow 54%
medium 41%
fast 3%

Plot- or character-driven?

Character: 52% | A mix: 35% | Plot: 11%

Strong character development?

Yes: 55% | It's complicated: 39% | No: 4%

Loveable characters?

No: 43% | It's complicated: 41% | Yes: 10% | N/A: 4%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 80% | It's complicated: 14% | N/A: 2% | No: 2%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 79% | It's complicated: 18% | No: 2%

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