The Sympathizer was tough to get through.
I'm a bit torn. This book was highly recommended and won the Pulitzer
Prize last year. And though it was a slog to finish, when I did, I was
really happy I stuck with it and completed. It had some great themes and
nuanced points to make about main characters struggles. (Plot side
note: the book is about the end of the Vietnam war and subsequent life
of the main character (a communist sympathizer) and others living abroad
In fact, the interview with the author, postscript,
actually helped clarify much of the novels purpose and shed light onto a
number of not yet realized, at least to me, plot developments. One more
positive, there was a few funny parts of the book as well.
as much I enjoyed finishing up the novel and understanding more about
the author's intent, I couldn't get past the difficulty of actually
pushing through the entire novel. The problem -- it simply wasn't
interesting. The plot set up was one with a lot of promise, but clearly
did not live up to my expectations. While there are some "action" scenes
in the novel, they are told so slowly that you can't help but wish the
author would speed them up. Interestingly, I didn't even find the
details he continually offered helped anything. Rather, I'm not sure
what took up so many pages of the novel. Also, what bothered me
immensely, the book had no dialogue. Well, it did have people talking on
few occasions (thus neglecting one of my favorite parts of a book), but
the author refused to use quotation marks. This cool writing style did
not go over well with me. So, I was left with a book with a very slow plot, occasional dialogue (always fun to try to remember who was talking), and some less than interesting characters.
clearly, I was not a huge fan of this book. I really tried to be, and
there must be many others that are (like the people that give the
Pulitzer!). I, also, can see why this book did receive so many awards.
There is a smartness to Nguyen's writing that few authors have. In the
end, however, I base my ratings exclusively on entertainment value, and
this one just didn't do it for me.