The Committed: Abrasive and unrelenting metaphysical thriller

Book review: Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel falls victim at times to Tripadvisor truisms about French culture

 In his latest novel, Viet Thanh Nguyen  charts the fortunes of Vietnamese expatriates in 1980s Paris. File photograph: Oriana Koren/New York Times

In his latest novel, Viet Thanh Nguyen charts the fortunes of Vietnamese expatriates in 1980s Paris. File photograph: Oriana Koren/New York Times

“What a luminous, near future would be visible to us if two, three, or many Vietnams flourished throughout the world with their share of death and their immense tragedies, their everyday heroism and their repeated blows against imperialism.”

Che Guevara’s fighting words from the Bolivian maquis to delegates gathered at the 1966 Tricontinental Conference in Havana find an unsettling echo in the novels of Viet Thanh Nguyen. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer (2015), he traces the exiled afterlife of Vietnamese refugees in the United States, and in his latest novel, The Committed, he charts the fortunes of Vietnamese expatriates in 1980s Paris.

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