Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Viet sells novel The Sympathizer to Grove/Atlantic

Viet sells his novel to the storied publisher Grove/Atlantic.

Here’s the news from Publishers Marketplace:

New deals for December 5, 2013

Debut Viet Thanh Nguyen’s THE SYMPATHIZER, a post-Vietnam-War novel that explores betrayal, deception, and identity, narrated by a Viet Cong agent who has infiltrated the South Vietnamese Army and comes with them to America after the fall of Saigon, torn between capitalist America and communist Vietnam, he continues to fight a war of his own, to Peter Blackstock at Grove/Atlantic, by Nat Sobel and Julie Stevenson at Sobel Weber Associates (NA).


The novel, The Sympathizer, begins in April 1975, as Saigon is about to fall to communist invasion. Soon enough it does, and the war is over. Or is it?

Black comedy, historical novel, and literary thriller, The Sympathizer follows a nameless spy who has infiltrated the South Vietnamese army and flees with its remnants to America. His mission: report on their efforts to continue their lost war. As the aide to a general who refuses to admit defeat, he observes the struggles of the Vietnamese refugees to survive in a melancholic Los Angeles. Among them, the general believes, are communist agents. So our spy’s double life continues, hunting communists while helping the general organize a covert army. Their mission: to invade Vietnam and take it back.

Neither America nor a double life is new to our narrator. He is Eurasian, his father a French priest, his mother Vietnamese. He has been a double agent since his teenage years, and in his college years, he studied in California, the better to learn American culture. His war is a psychological one, but as he slowly realizes, much of that war is fought within himself, a man in between races and countries. As he tells us from the beginning: I am a spy, a sleeper, a spook, a man of two faces. Perhaps not surprisingly, I am also a man of two minds.

The novel will be published in spring 2015, coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.

Grove/Atlantic is one of the last independent publishers. In the days when it was Grove Press, it became legendary for publishing writers no one else would dare to–the Beats, William Burroughs, Samuel Beckett, Malcolm X, Frantz Fanon, to name a few. Some of its notable contemporary writers are Sherman Alexie, Charles Frazier, Mark Bowden, Harold Pinter, Kiran Desai and Tobias Wolff.

Nat Sobel is one of the best-known literary agents working. His clients include Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo and best-selling authors James Ellroy and Robert Jordan.


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