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The Committed

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  138 ratings  ·  75 reviews
The long-awaited new novel from one of America’s most highly regarded contemporary writers, The Committed follows the Sympathizer as he arrives in Paris as a refugee. There he and his blood brother Bon try to escape their pasts and prepare for their futures by turning their hands to capitalism in one of its purest forms: drug dealing. No longer in physical danger, but stil ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 2nd 2021 by Grove Press
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Robin It's a follow-on novel to "The Sympathizer". I think it's best to read them in order as the characters first come to life in the first book and the st…moreIt's a follow-on novel to "The Sympathizer". I think it's best to read them in order as the characters first come to life in the first book and the story in the second book will make more sense if you've read the first one. (less)

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3 stars for a book that is overloaded with the tortured mind of a Vietnamese spy now in France. I decided to read this book because i had read and enjoyed 2 books previously by this author.
The steam of consciousness writing, with an emphasis on the ideas of various philosophers is at times confusing and too much information. That, plus depictions of torture, detracted from the enjoyment of the book.
On the plus side, there is some interesting commentary from the Vietnamese point of view on Ameri
Ron Charles
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
In 2015, a professor at the University of Southern California published his first novel called “The Sympathizer.” The story was a cerebral work of historical fiction and political satire cleverly infiltrated with cultural criticism. Although cloaked as a thriller, it didn’t fit neatly into that popular genre and could have slipped by as unnoticed as a good spy.

Except that the author, Viet Thanh Nguyen, was too startlingly brilliant to ignore. “The Sympathizer” flushed color back into those iconi
“We were the unwanted, the unneeded, and the unseen, invisible to all but ourselves. Less than nothing, we also saw nothing as we crouched blindly in the unlit belly of our ark… Even among the unwanted there were unwanted, and at that, some of us could only laugh. The prostitutes scowled at us and said, What do you want? We, the unwanted, wanted so much. We wanted food, water, and parasols, although umbrellas could be fine. We wanted clean clothes, baths, and toilets, the squatting kind … “

I am
Gumble's Yard
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
Published in the UK today 4/3/21

As with any war, the origins could be disputed. Was it their fault, whoever they were, because they had killed Sleepy? Was it my fault because I had nearly killed Beatles and Rolling Stones, who presumably belonged to the same gang as Sleepy’s killers? Was it their fault because they had attempted to rob me? Was it my fault because I had strayed out of my assigned place among the invisible Indochinese who never needed a visit from the Repressive State Apparatus
Ari Levine
Dec 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5, rounded up. A sequel to Nguyen's Pulitzer-prize-winning The Sympathizer, with which it shares some of the same strengths and weaknesses. Here, the Sympathizer, aka Crazy Bastard, has survived a Viet Cong reeducation camp and an Indonesian refugee camp to wash up in Paris in the early 1980s, adopting the disguise of a Japanese tourist to sell hashish and heroin to haut-bourgeois Marxists as an accomplice of a Vietnamese exile organized crime and prostitution syndicate, based in "the worst As ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
A new book from the award-winning author of the The Sympathizer. Nguyen continues the story of the former Vietnamese soldier with no name who is now living in Paris with his blood brother Bon. As refugees, they hope France will be better to them than America was. After all France proclaims they believe in "liberty, equality, and fraternity...(but just not yet, at least for you.)" He is known to most in the immigrant community as 'the crazy bastard.' He IS crazy and he IS a bastard after all. He ...more
Dec 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer was simply a stunning book, focusing on the absurdity of Saigon in the mid-70s from the perspective of an unnamed Vietnamese national. Our Sympathizer is blessed with the curse of sympathizing with conflicting perspectives, often uncovering the preening and pretentiousness of those involved. I read it with awe and couldn’t wait to be a first reader of its sequel.

The Committed follows the dual agent, half-French Sympathizer as he arrives in Paris in the early 8
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
”We were the unwanted, the unneeded, and the unseen, invisible to all but ourselves. Less than nothing, we also saw nothing as we crouched blindly in the unlit belly of our ark. . . Even among the unwanted there were unwanted, and at that some of us could only laugh.”.

Reading Viet Thank Nguyen’s The Committed brings to mind multi-layered Matryoshka dolls and the iconic scene in Orson Welles 1947 noir, Lady from Shanghai, with Rita Hayworth and Everett Sloane shooting at each other in a hall of
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
The Committed is the sequel to The Sympathizer and follows our nameless antihero who is no longer a spy as he stumbles into Paris and a life of drugs, crime, gangs, and politics. "We were the unwelcome, the unwanted, the ignored, invisible to anyone but ourselves": this is how this work begins. The protagonist of the new novel is still the young Captain of the South Vietnamese army who, in the "Sympathizer", after the fall of Saigon in 1975, flees to the United States and, unbeknownst to his fri ...more
Jan 23, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, 2021
I read this right after reading The Sympathizer so I was still riding that high and I wanted to continue on with the Captain who is now a Crazy Bastard or just simply rather crazy.

This one is a mix of crazy action and long philosophical asides. I must admit that I got rather lost in the 'asides' as Nguyen was in a dialogue with philosophies, ideologies, which I am not on point with so I could not really join into that dialogue.

If I had a wish for this book it would be that I wished for a better
Amy | shelf-explanatory
I am once again in awe of Viet Thanh Nguyen's writing, wordplay, and his ability to pack so much into his prose. The writing and narration style changes somewhat in this book, and there's several places where second person narration and page long run-on sentences are used. These devices are used to illustrate the altered mental state of the Captain following the events in THE SYMPATHIZER. I can see how these could be a turn off for other readers, but I felt that they did a good job at depicting ...more
Kasa Cotugno
It's hard to follow a first act like the Sympathizer, which won a Pulitzer Prize, but this story continues the story, following the narrator to Paris after the Vietnam war and after time in a "reeducation center" in Indonesia. At times brutal but at times florid, it works only fitfully. ...more
eARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

And the truth is: I don't like this book. I was so confused half of the time and exhausted in the other half. I'm not saying what I typed below was lying. It was just an extreme effort to utter out what positive things could be said about this book without spoiling anything since I saw so many people praising it and I'm scared to be offensive to those who have read it. This comes from a Vietnamese btw. It's good to see a Vietnamese auth
Ah, contradiction! The perpetual body odour of humanity!
In this electrifying sequel to his Pulitzer-winning spy thriller The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen pursues his unnamed protagonist out of a Vietnamese re-education camp and into Paris, where he confronts the duality of his being anew: whereas he was torn before by his ideological diplopia—his cursed ability to sympathise with both sides of a conflict—he is now tortured by the fact that the "screw" separating his two personalities
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
(I read an advanced copy via NetGalley.) If you want to know my thoughts on how much respect I have for Nguyen, read my long-okay-it's-really-long review of THE SYMPATHIZER. Here for my review of THE COMMITTED, I'm going to try to keep it short. This novel is BRILLIANT. I loved the first book but this sequel really brought it a notch up. I love love love that the sequel seamlessly picks up where the first book drops off and reveals more of the unnamed narrator including a reveal of his supposed ...more
Oct 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Thank you NetGalley for letting me read a digital copy of this book!

I want to start by saying, I've never read Nguyen's first book based on the main character, The Sympathizer. I wasn't sure if I wouldn't be able to catch on to the sequel, but the back story is summed up fairly well in detail, describing the reeducation camp during the Vietnam War. "...ever since the childhood moment when a Viet Cong cadre aimed the accusatory finger of a revolver at the back of his father's head, puncturing the
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
I’m fairly new to this ARC reviewing lark and I certainly did not expect to be granted the sequel to Pulitzer-prize winning ‘The Sympathiser’, a book that I loved (although I can still never look at a squid the same way again.) I also thought Viet Thanh Nguyen’s ‘Refugees’ was so good that I put it on a school course last year.

So, what a pleasure to have the chance to read this a couple of months earlier than most. And for the most part, it was such a joy to be back in the world of Nguyen’s name
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2021
It’s been 4.5 years since I read Viet Thanh Nguyen’s forerunner to The Committed, the Pulitzer Prize winning The Sympathizer, and my memories of that first book are somewhat vague. I know, however, that this new book picks up exactly where the first one left off and it is probably better to think of this as one book in two volumes rather than two separate books. Indeed, thinking of it that way is important to the plot of the book as this new one develops.

Looking at my Goodreads review of The Sym
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book picks up where The Sympathizer ends, and continues the story of the unnamed spy. The Sympathizer dealt with the American invasion of Vietnam through his eyes, and was a meditation on the conflict, patriotism, espionage, the depiction of conflicts in pop culture. This book , while ostensibly about Vo Danh ( not his name, I know, but less unwieldy than typing out variations of "nameless narrator"each time!) trying to survive in Paris with Bon, explores the effects of French colonialism o ...more
Jan 30, 2021 rated it it was ok
Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.
Find the full review and others at:

Viet Thanh Nguyen is a sterling writer. There is no doubt in regard to his political convictions, his vision for The Committed, and the wide swath of political theory he has at his disposal. There are times when the writing sings, and he handles the violence with a Reservoir Dogs tone.

Unfortunately, the majority of this book is long-winded, repetitive political theory laundered throug
"The ambassador likewise proceeded to torture his audience with a bilingual soufflé of cliches, topped with the whipped cream of excessive compliments slathered onto French culture. Real talent was required to use so many words in two languages and say nothing."

In this sequel to the Pulitzer Prize winning The Sympathizer, our protagonist arrives as a refugee in Paris in the 1980s. There he bounces between his aunt's highfalutin crowd of leftist intellectuals and drug dealing gangsters. Part shoo
Feb 22, 2021 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
DNF'd. I read the ARC of this title during the US elections. I got through 33% but I had to stop.

The author is very smart and very sharp. The book has a clever beginning but soon the enterprise is dragged down. "Down" is the operative word here. The snark is abundant. The observations and analysis are told with a snide and bitter edge--one that cuts deeply and relentlessly. And as a result, there is no joy and no hope. Moreover, I found no way to grasp on to something I could relate to or nomin
Dec 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This follow up to the incredible, pulitzer prize winning ,"The Sympathizer", is very much worth looking forward to. I feel I may reread upon publication as, at times, this novel of ideas and the duality of man was complicated to follow. Overall most of this book didn't engage me as much as his previous work, but then there were parts that were over the top outstanding. I would definitely recommend, especially to those interested in history, colonialism, and literary fiction that gets pretty meta ...more
Nov 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nguyen is one of America’s finest writers and thinkers. This follow up to The Sympathizer follows our double agent protagonist in Paris after surviving the re-education camp at the end of the first novel. I greatly appreciate the Advance Readers copy, but I did struggle a bit with the meandering prose. While Nguyen’s talent and intellect shine through, this one takes a patient and dedicated reader.
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wowowow. Still digesting. Review to come.
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ethnic-studies
This is the kind of book only someone like Viet Thanh Nguyen, who has both the literary and sociological background, could write. The book explores a similar concept to one which Orwell does in 1984 bringing to our attention that (1) revolution must be perpetual or otherwise becomes the state and (2) that commitment to our values and lifting up the most marginalized people of society is "what must be done".

I like the departure from what I was taught from my numerous ethnic studies classes from
Dec 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews, 2020
**My sincere and grateful thanks to the good folks at Grove Atlantic for taking a chance on me as a first-time reviewer for NetGalley.**

Our revolutionary returns in this immediate follow-up to "The Sympathizer"; if you haven’t read that one first, you’ll be able to follow this sequel, but its most significant moments will have less of an impact. Assuming we’re all on the same page, however, the story very much continues right where the first novel left off.

Our narrator now has a name—Vo Danh, “
Sunni C. | vanreads
Viet Thanh Nguyen is way too smart for me! In all seriousness though, this book is brilliant. Like The Sympathizer, The Committed is multi-layered and there's so much to unpack in 341 pages. I can't pretend to understand it all, as my understanding of Vietnamese history is very green. However, I can say that I really enjoy Viet Thanh Nguyen's writing style and storytelling for this very reason. Oftentimes, literature that focuses on Asian history and cultural dynamics are written for a white aud ...more
Jennifer Caloyeras

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Committed is spectacular. “Captain” has just immigrated to Paris, France, the birthplace of his father along with his friend, Bon. It’s 1981. What not many people know is that “Captain” is a spy and a communist sympathizer who was recently in a reeducation and then a refugee camp in America. “Captain” is caught between two identities and faces rampant racism in a post-Vietnam War society and he does whatever it takes to survive, including becoming a hash dealer. But under
I might be a minority among the readers of this book since I haven’t read The Sympathizer prior to reading this book. My brief introduction to Viet Thanh Nguyen is only through his collection of short stories The Refugees which paints the many faces of Vietnamese refugees in the United States. Now this book gives me a different flavour. Prior to reading this, I tried to read some synopsis of The Sympathizer to get a brief summary of Nguyen’s magnum opus which won him a Pulitzer in 2016.

The Commi
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Viet Thanh Nguyen is the author of the novel The Sympathizer (Grove Press, 2015). He also authored Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (Oxford University Press, 2002) and co-edited Transpacific Studies: Framing an Emerging Field (University of Hawaii Press, 2014). An associate professor at the University of Southern California, he teaches in the departments of English and ...more

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“What reeducation had taught me was that dedicated communists were like dedicated capitalists, incapable of nuance.” 1 likes
“Perhaps my problem was that I thought we Vietnamese had hit bottom, under the French, and then saw there was another bottom beneath that with the Americans, when in reality, there was yet another bottom to discover - our own.” 0 likes
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