Viet Thanh Nguyen is a Vietnamese-American author and professor, and he is the man behind The Sympathiser. His novel got published in 2015. It is about the story of a mole who was infiltrating the South Vietnam Army for the North. He blends in with their community. It is the confession of the narrator to the Commandant.
A Brief Highlight of the Story
The narrator starts his tale by describing the events when Saigon fell. He was working under a General of a particular branch of the Anti Communist army in the South of Vietnam. The narrator is perceived as one of the most trusted officers under the general. However, he is a spy who has been sent by the communist to watch the activities of the Special Branch, which was in America and then report back. The battle had ended in Vietnam, and the only thing remaining was to get rid of Communism in Vietnam.
The narrator escapes narrowly from Saigon, and he moves to Los Angeles with the General and the General’s family. Bob, who is a childhood friend of the narrator, also arrives in L.A, but then he loses his family in the chaos. Man, another childhood friend, is a Communist and stays in Vietnam during Saigon’s fall. Bon has no idea that his friends are communists and the three see themselves as blood brothers.
The narrator gets to become an assistant in the Oriental studies department. He meets Mori, who is a Japanese woman, and they start a casual relationship. The narrator also reconnects with Sonny, who is his former classmate working as a newspaper editor. The narrator reports back to Man via letters that use invisible ink to inform him of the plans of his General.
The General struggles to adapt to the city but soon starts a liquor store business. He confides in our narrator about the fact that he believes there is a communist amongst them, and the narrator accuses a Major among the ranks through a suggestion. The innocent Major gets killed by Bon.
The narrator feels guilty about it and agrees to take part in a movie. He is injured during the shooting and gets paid a settlement so as not to sue.
Bon volunteers to go to Thailand for a lethal mission, and the narrator decides to join him to protect him. Sonny reports about the secret mission, and the General asks the narrator to kill Sonny.
While in Thailand, they are ambushed, and everyone is killed except Bon and the narrator. They are imprisoned. A man was forced to torture the narrator to save him. He is kept for days and even goes mad. At the end of the novel, the narrator is among some people in the boat, heading for the sea.