the sympathizer-viet thanh nguyen (finale)

“We genuflected, but in actuality we were atheists who had chosen communism over God.” (25)

“My mother called me her love child, but I do not like to dwell on that. In the end, my father had it right. He called me nothing at all.” (20)

“Despair may be thick, but friendship’s thicker. After that, nothing more needed to be said, our camaraderie enough as we heeded the call of the Katyusha rockets, hissing in the distance like librarians demanding silence.” (34)

“He was the only many I had ever met who seemed moved, deeply, not only by love but also the prospect of killing. While he was an expert by necessity, i was a novice by choice, despite having my opportunities.” (95)

“It was, instead, the best kind of truth, the one that meant at least two things.” (116)

“And that’s precisely how she spoke, trimming pronouns and periods, as if punctuation and grammar were wasted on me.” (122)

“…the thickish manila envelope arriving with my name misspelled in a beautifully cursive hand.” (122)

“One could choose between innocence and experience, but one could not have both.” (143)

“The communists hate love songs, said the admiral. They don’t believe in love or romance or entertainment. They believe the people should only love the revolution and the country. But the people love love songs, and we serve the people.” (285)

“What makes us human is that we’re the only creatures on this planet that can fuck ourselves.” (237)

“That’s a good word. Always resent, never relent. Perhaps that should be our motto.” (133)

it wasn’t until i copy/pasted that second passage that i remembered that the protagonist in this story is nameless. unlike the haters, i love that. i love it because often, when we are telling war stories, we forget those who are in certain boats, probably because it would break our hearts to say their names. i love it because this is a story for all of the nameless. that this is an example of how sometimes, the story isn’t written by the victors. or maybe, that the victors didn’t actually win. judging by american cinema, this is point of contention over a war that on the other side, is known as the american war.

once again, i love this book and i’m proud.

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