Sunday, September 25, 2016
Guessing at the likely ending of The Sympathizer
Book group tonight to discuss Viet Tranh Nguyen's The Sympathizer and, gulp, I don't think I'll be able to finish reading the novel by this evening - but will say that I'm glad the novel gets down to business at about the halfway point as the Vietnamese in exile in LA begin organizing into a platoon, under the leadership of The General, and that they're planning to invade Vietnam via Thailand (which will mean a crossing through Cambodia!) and liberate the country from Communist rule - this right after the conclusion of that bloody and pointless war. Was ever a mission of such folly attempted or even conceived (even the Bay of Pigs had direct and supposed backing of the U.S. govt.; this escapade has the backing, it seems, of only a rogue congressman). I'm glad the detour of this novel - the narrator's stint as an advisor on a film about Vietnam - is over with; it was colorful, but a distraction - one of the many false paths the narrative seems to follow. So what do I think will happen in the last 3rd of The Sympathizer: for all evidence, the narrator will be part of the invading force and captured and interrogated (this novel is, supposedly, his written confession) - but who arrests him and why or how? My guess he will be picked up as an American spy - in part because he worked so closely w/ American forces, also he's half-European (French). But there has to be more to it - perhaps he's betrayed by his supposed ally, Man, who will denounce him and not vouch for his status as a spy for the VC and the new Vietnamese government; and perhaps we will wonder, too, be the authenticity of his spying - maybe it's just a story he's concocted to deceive his captors?