Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Sympathiser by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Told in the first person, this is the account of a nameless half-Vietnamese half- French fighter serving during the Vietnam War in 1975. 

”I am simply able to see any issue from both sides. I flatter myself that this is a talent..."  he wryly observes.

The author, in the afterword, has this to say.

"The tendency to separate war stories from immigrant stories means that most Americans don't understand how many of the immigrants and refugees in the United States have fled from wars - many of which this country has had a hand in.”

That may be true. And if so, this novel explores and opens up that world. Delving into the atrocities and horrors experienced in Vietnam, and the sometimes worse squalor and skanky environment that he returned to in the US, now haunted by his experiences, this is a novel of love and friendship set in a world of espionage, treachery and war.

I have to admit,  I did tire of the complexities and political intricacies that played out alongside the human drama, there was a point where I stopped caring. It was too intense.

The audible narration was excellent - authentic and just the right tone and pace for the book.

4 stars

ISBN: 9780802123459

You may also enjoy Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski.

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