The Sympathizer
By Viet Thanh Nguyen
384 pages; Grove Press

Why Your Book Club Will Love It: This debut is a page-turner (read: everybody will finish) that makes you reconsider the Vietnam War (read: everyone will have an opinion).

The Burning Questions: What happens when political ideals conflict with personal affection? How does one live between two worlds?

What Not to Bring to Your Meeting: Preconceived ideas.

"I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces." So begins the confession of the nameless narrator, a South Vietnamese captain who is, in fact, a communist informant, and who gains passage to Los Angeles in 1975, aboard one of the last flights out of the country. In America, his heart and mind are deeply divided—he wants to protect beloved friends yet feels bound to his old political ideals. Compelled to see both sides of every situation, he finds himself caught up in an ever-thickening web of betrayals, with violent consequences. Nguyen's darkly comic novel offers a point of view about American culture that we've rarely seen.
Dawn Raffel