Translated from: English
Authors: Nguyen, Viet Thanh
Translated by: Rosenaitė, Ina
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 2020
Publisher: Tyto Alba
A “Sympathizer” is a semi-French, semi-Vietnamese anonymous narrator whose story becomes confession.
The story begins with the collapse of Saigon, during which the protagonist holds the position of assistant to a high-ranking special unit, the central anti-communist intelligence organization of the South Vietnamese Army. Yet, it is soon revealed to readers that the protagonist is not as he presents himself, in fact, he is a communist spy tasked with monitoring and reporting on all the activities of the Special Division in America. When the main character is transferred to the United States under the guise of an assistant in the Department of Oriental Studies, he does not end the mission entrusted to him and with a secret letters informs the Communists about the counter-revolutionary plans being developed for Vietnam. Although the Vietnam War is coming to an end, Vietnam’s struggle against communism is still gaining momentum.
While at first glance it might seem that the protagonist does not deserve the reader’s sympathy for the hypocrisy and pain inflicted on others, the sensitive and intimate inner world of the narrator still leaves no one indifferent. It’s a story about a man who, from birth, felt different, duplicated, like an outside observer of his life. Although, he sincerely believes in the ideals of communism, yet his sensitive nature is no stranger to the pain of others. He sincerely sympathizes with those whose lives have been condemned by his work, but equally sympathizes with those who have condemned himself.
The novel engages and fascinates the unadorned truth, the unlearned heroes, the imperceptible sympathy of any warring party. The protagonist, at the crossroads of two opposites, supports and belongs to both of them, but deep down in the heart of neither.
Which fighting side will defeat when your main enemy is you?
Vietnamese American professor Viet Thanh Nguyen made his debut as a fiction writer in 2015, by writing historical spy novel „Sympathizer “. This work has gained international recognition from readers and in 2016 won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In total, “Sympathizer” was nominated for 14 awards, of which 8 were received.