The Sympathizer

Today I finished The Sympathizer, another of the books I discovered via the bookshop in Suvarbharmi Airport. It was really strong, even if the last chapters seemed to fade in strength – or perhaps that was my own fatigue. 

The Sympathizer is about a double agent in the South Vietnamese secret police, eventually escaping to America and then being drawn back to  Vietnam. There’s a detour to the Philippines for a (very) thinly veiled allegory for Apocalypse Now, and after that the book does run out of steam a little, before ending in a meditation on the nature of revolutions. 

The story is written as a confession to an unseen commissar (only at the denouement does the significance of this become clear) and while it is about Vietnam, the references to American policy, both foreign and domestic, appear again and again. (I’d quote liberally from it now, bit too tired to type it up right now.)

So, a definite recommendation. As you’d expect for a Pulitzer winner. Not a cheery bedtime read though…

5 responses to “The Sympathizer”

    • Apocalypse Now the videogame – clearly a cash in to coincide with the movie release. (Just a few years late.)

      Is the final boss fight with an enormous Marlon Brando which mumbles “the horror, the horror” and slides snails down razor blades at you?

  1. From the developer’s kickstarter page

    The game will be played from what we call a “subjective” first-person perspective. This means that Willard’s view is your view, but that you also observe changes in that view due to Willard’s mental state. Taking drugs or drinking will change this view. In the jungle, Willard’s situational awareness will indicate the origin of sounds. In periods of intense stress, the field of view may narrow, simulating the fight or flight response.And napalm from the F4s will ruin your day in the game (or save your ass).

    I want this on the Rift. I’ll plug in, have a some mescaline, play some Wagner and bam!

    • Or couldn’t you just save the wait for the game by doing a bunch of drink and drugs and watching Apocalypse Now, now?

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