The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Mini Review)

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?

3 thoughts on “The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Mini Review)

Add yours

  1. Well…I made it to the 10th of the year before before breaking my plan to not add anything to my TBR other than books that continued a series I was already reading. This book just got added.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy to help🤣

      One thing I didn’t mention in my review is just how well this book is written. Great figures of speech. Some funny. Some serious. But all made me think.


  2. I read this a few years ago and LOVED it. It was just so good and different from what I’d read any time recently. Also was intrigued by the lack of quotation marks anywhere or how we don’t really know who the protagonist is. Such a good book and well deserving of its awards.


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