I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man with two faces.
And thus begins one of the best character studies I’ve ever read. The Sympathizer follows a Communist double agent through the Fall of Saigon and his move to Los Angeles as a refugee. His primary job is to take care of the General as his aide-de-camp. Sure, it’s the job of a bureaucrat but his missives to his Communist superiors will be death by a million cuts to the ARVN. From the official military ranks in Vietnam to the power that becomes distributed all over Southern California, the unnamed protagonist will need to dodge the suspicions, the deceits, and the shifting cultural alliances in his mind.
The Sympathizer gives the reader a uniquely drawn narrator. A narrator with a voice you will not soon forget. One minute I was laughing and the next I was squirming as the slow burn of his mission grew more complex. Running across the tarmac to catch the last plane out of Saigon or side-stepping suspicion by fingering another refugee as spy, the protagonist does whatever he can to survive, but along the way he manages to explore American life and maybe keep his head attached to his body.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to a history buff or someone looking for a captivating character study. A man caught between two worlds. Two loyalties… will one be to himself?