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.

What the community thinks

summary of 1399 ratings (see reviews)

Content warnings


Expand filter menu View warnings

Moods

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

Pace

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%

Average rating

4.02