The long-awaited follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer, which has sold more than one million copies worldwide, The Committed follows the man of two minds as he arrives in Paris in the early 1980s with his blood brother Bon. The pair try to overcome their pasts and ensure their futures by engaging in capitalism in one of its purest forms: drug dealing.
Traumatized by his reeducation at the hands of his former best friend, Man, and struggling to assimilate into French culture, the Sympathizer finds Paris both seductive and disturbing. As he falls in with a group of left-wing intellectuals whom he meets at dinner parties given by his French Vietnamese "aunt," he finds stimulation for his mind but also customers for his narcotic merchandise. But the new life he is making has perils he has not foreseen, whether the self-torture of addiction, the authoritarianism of a state locked in a colonial mindset, or the seeming paradox of how to reunite his two closest friends whose worldviews put them in absolute opposition. The Sympathizer will need all his wits, resourcefulness, and moral flexibility if he is to prevail.
Both highly suspenseful and existential, The Committed is a blistering portrayal of commitment and betrayal that will cement Viet Thanh Nguyen's position in the firmament of American letters.
"Equal parts Ellison's Invisible Man and Chang-rae Lee's Henry Park, Nguyen's nameless narrator is a singular literary creation, a complete original. Fortunately for us, this tormented double agent is back for another serving of ghostcolonial discontent in Nguyen's showstopper sequel, The Committed . . . The novel draws its true enchantment--and its immense power--from the propulsive, wide-ranging intelligence of our narrator as he Virgils us through his latest descent into hell. That he happens to be as funny as he is smart is the best plus of all . . . By the end of The Committed, its cover as a spy novel is blown and its true genre is revealed: It's a ghost story, if it's any kind at all. The novel's tension derives not from whether Vo Danh will survive the drug war or his past offenses, but whether this spectral man will, in the fullest meaning of the word, live . . . If this incandescent novel teaches us anything, it is that forgiveness is a joy of the living, not the burden of the dead." - Junot Diaz, New York Times Book Review
"The action of the new novel, set in 1981, is chronologically contiguous with that of The Sympathizer, but 'sequel' isn't quite the right word for it; it's more like a reloading . . . The absence of conventional craft, as much as the shared content, makes the two books into a single project. It's the voice of the novels that matters, that ramifies, that keeps one reading: the anger, the indictment, the deep, questioning cynicism . . . It's a voice that shakes the walls of the old literary comfort zone wherein the narratives of nonwhite 'immigrants' were tasked with proving their shared humanity to a white audience . . . May that voice keep running like a purifying venom through the mainstream of our self-regard--through the American dream of distancing ourselves from what we continue to show ourselves to be." - Jonathan Dee, New Yorker
"With smoke-and-mirrors panache, The Committed--Viet Thanh Nguyen's sequel to The Sympathizer--continues the travails of our Eurasian Ulysses, now relocated to France and self-identified as Vo Danh . . . From a satirical James Bond-esque spy story in The Sympathizer, the author shifts to James Baldwin's intersectional politics in The Committed to address greed, prejudice, and violence . . . The Committed's revolutionary core is its plasticity--a novel of ideas that continuously shapeshifts to question its raison d'être." - Thúy Đinh, NPR
"The narrator's voice snaps you up. It's direct, vain, cranky, and slashing--a voice of outraged intelligence. It's among the more memorable in recent American literature . . . The heat in The Committed, of which there is a good deal, derives from the friction created by the narrator's contradictory thoughts about France, his country's colonizer. This is a book about humiliation, about repression and expression, about the plasticity of identity." - Dwight Garner, New York Times
"Takes place entirely in Paris, though not the romantic City of Light. This is Paris beyond the tourist haunts and photo shoots: along dark avenues of warehouses, clubs and restaurants controlled by battling gangs. Just as The Sympathizer transformed the hulk of an old spy novel, The Committed does the same with a tale of noir crime." - Ron Charles, Washington Post
"An unashamedly political novel of the kind that has been out of fashion for several decades . . . An invitation to the reader to think, not just to feel: to think deeply about political systems and ideologies, whose interests they serve and what, if any, answers they can provide . . . These two novels constitute a powerful challenge to an enduring narrative of colonialism and neo-colonialism. One waits to see what Nguyen, and the man of two faces, will do next." - Aminatta Forna, Guardian
"The conflicted spy of Nguyen's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer returns, embroiled in Paris's criminal underworld . . . The pages are rife with prostitutes, drugs, and, in the late pages, gunplay. But, as in The Sympathizer, Nguyen keeps the thriller-ish aspects at a low boil, emphasizing a mood of black comedy driven by the narrator's intellectual crisis . . . Nguyen is deft at balancing his hero's existential despair with the lurid glow of a crime saga. A quirky intellectual crime story that highlights the Vietnam War's complex legacy." - Kirkus Reviews