The Committed is a rich and exhilarating story of friendship, loyalty, and greed. Set in 1980s Paris, it follows the characters from The Sympathizer as they try to fashion new lives among all the wretched of the earth. Viet Thanh Nguyen gives us an unsparing look at the poisonous effects of ideology - whether colonialism, communism, or capitalism - even as he explores the deep-seated need we all have to believe in something. A deep, compelling and humorous portrait of how we are shaped by fictions others have for us.
Call The Committed many things. A white hot literary thriller disguised as a searing novel of ideas. An unflinching look at redemption and damnation. An unblinking examination of the dangers of belief, and the need to believe. A sequel that goes toe to toe with the original then surpasses it. A masterwork.
This follow-up to his seminal The Sympathizer is Nguyen at his most ambitious and bold. Fierce in tone, capacious, witty, sharp, and deeply researched, The Committed marks, not just a sequel to its groundbreaking predecessor, but a sum total accumulation of a life devoted to Vietnamese American history and scholarship. This novel, like all daring novels, is a Trojan Horse, whose hidden power is a treatise of global futurity in the aftermath of colonial conquest. It asks questions central both to Vietnamese everywhere - and to our very species: How do we live in the wake of seismic loss and betrayal? And, perhaps even more critically, How do we laugh?
An elegy to idealism, Orientalism, and existentialism in all its tragic forms, Nguyen's novel doesn't so much inhabit early eighties Paris, as it pulls the plug on the City of Light. Think of The Committed as the declaration of the 20th ½ Arrondissement. A squatter's paradise for those with one foot in the grave and the other shoved halfway up Western civilization's ass.
The Committed, Viet Thanh Nguyen's furious and exhilarating sequel to The Sympathizer, is part gangster-thriller, part searing cultural analysis of the post-colonial predicament, seen through the eyes of a Vietnamese-French mixed race bastard double agent. Paris of forty years ago swirls to life around him, from intellectual salons to filthy toilets-with glimpses of everyone from Johnny Hallyday to Frantz Fanon to Julia Kristeva. Like Ellison's Invisible Man, these novels will surely become classics.
The Committed is nothing short of revelatory . . . This book is fierce, and unrelentingly good. Hilarious and subversive, philosophical and hallucinatory, it is much more than a sequel, more like a necessary appendage in a brilliant and expansive anti-colonial body of work. Bravo.
The Committed is a wonderful successor to The Sympathizer, a splendid tapestry of a novel, full of dubious but richly realized characters. It solidifies what we already know - Viet Thanh Nguyen is a gifted storyteller. It is difficult to know where to start with the praise. The characters have a sad and often tragic complexity, and the language offers a terrific ride for the reader. This is a grand novel full of breathtaking and luminous insights and a pure joy to read. Anticipation is why we come to a book, and joy is why we keep turning page after page. The Committed offers both, and so very much more.