Winner of The Pulitzer Prize for fiction as well as several other literary awards, Viet Thanh Nguyen’s debut novel is a complex work about Viet Nam shortly after the American withdrawal. The narrator, who remains nameless throughout, is an army captain, half French, half Vietnamese working for both the communists and his homeland while assimilating into the American culture. Leading a somewhat schizophrenic life, he is often unsure who to trust, believe or side with. In many ways the narrator’s life is like his native country which has been occupied by the French, Americans and communists.
While I admired this novel, I could never immerse myself into the life of the main character. There were more than a few instances when The Sympathizer was too subjective, too didactic and too self-conscious.