Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer re-situates history. 3 million Vietnamese died, and 58,000 American soldiers. A generation later, Nguyen has given this history an authentic voice—a voice that has been brushed aside, hidden from discourse, from textbooks, from individuals whose identities contain it.
Inside the craft-obsessed, time-warped fiction workshop where literary realism has reigned supreme forever, the Show-Don’t-Tell maxim serves an important function in critique.
Jacqueline Woodson, author of the National Book Award-winning Brown Girl Dreaming, said, "I think it’s so important for readers to see mirrors of themselves in books and to see that the people who wrote the books look like them, so that they can understand their own power and ability.”
Like many Gen-Xers, I don’t know as much as I should about the Vietnam War. Sure I’ve heard stories—from an uncle who cleared land mines, from a middle school teacher ravaged by Agent Orange.