Over the summer we read Pulitzer Prize winner The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, a story about a double spy during the Vietnam War. Our discussion about the book was great, as there is so much to talk about in this book! And even the people who didn’t love the novel, still saw value in the story and style. Today we’ll recommend some other books you might want to read after The Sympathizer and at the end we’ll leave some discussion questions to use for your own book club!
Nothing Ever Dies is a little bit the non-fiction companion to The Sympathizer. In this book, Nguyen explores the memory of the war in Vietnam and how it is remembered in the United States as well as in Vietnam.
A lot of comparisons are drawn to the work of Graham Greene, while discussing The Sympathizer. This isn’t all that strange, as Greene is an inspiration to Nguyen. The Quiet American is even mentioned in the novel, so that made it seem like a great recommendation to us! Greene’s novel is a about a young American idealist sent to Saigon during the Vietnam War. Here he makes a mess of things even though he tries to do the right thing.
She Weeps Each Time You’re Born is another novel published in 2015 about Vietnam by a Vietnamese author raised in the U.S. With the use of magical realism Quan Barry tells the story of Rabbit, a girl born with the ability to hear the dead. While in the midst of war, Rabbit struggles to unearth the true history of Vietnam while at the same time trying to carve out a place for herself within it.
– As what kind of novel would you describe the book? Is it a spy story, thriller, political novel etc.
– Did this novel make you see the Vietnam war differently?
– How effective is the confessional-style the novel is written in?