As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
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by Corsair, 4 February 2016. ISBN
As in the musical Miss Saigon we begin with the
escape from Saigon by American sympathisers as the city falls to the Vietcong
in 1975.However this book is in the
world of huge groups waiting for planes at the airport for many hours under the
threat of fire.This is a superb
evocation of the last days of Saigon and follows on by showingthe attitudes of the South Vietnamese
escaping to America and setting up new lives in LA.Our protagonist is escaping with the General
and his family and entourage.
teller of the tale is a bastard, half-Vietnamese, half-French, a captain in the
South Vietnamese forces who has become a Communist sympathiser and ultimately a
Communist spy.His views on the USA are
suitably jaundiced but expressed by someone with real knowledge of the
Americanway of life since he had
studied there for 6 years.He continues
his spying activities on the exiles under a constant fear of being unmasked.
novel is beautifully written with many insights into the life of exiles as
exgenerals run liquor stores and expilots become mechanics.Their wives, previously languid ladies
(winsome lilies as the protagonist describes them) become workers and their children
learn a foreign tongue far faster than their fathers.As on fellow exile puts it " a man
doesn't need balls in this country...the women all have their own.On a visit to the Philippines our hero
recognises immediately "a country with its malnourished neck under a
search for spies by the General seems rather redundant in America but it is
suggested that the General "had bolstered the Vietnamese tendency for
conspiracy with the American trait of paranoia."Though our spy admits that he had helped the
General to reach this conclusion by suggesting a possible spy whom he knew was
story of the sympathiser is a literary tour de force.The story he tells winds its way inexorably
through the contradictions of his life.
should warn that this is a novel about war and its after effects rather than a
pure crime story and as such has a great deal of violence and numerous examples
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
is Vietnam Thanh Nguyen first novel.
Viet Thanh Nguyen
is an associate professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the
University of Southern California. The
Sympathizer won the First
Novel prize from the Centre for Fiction, the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction from
the American Library Association, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for
Literature in Fiction from the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association.
PalmerThroughout my reading life
crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an
expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the
solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly
therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous