The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 12+ hours
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It is Veteran’s day in the United States, and to that we must not forget to remember that many of our veteran’s face psychological struggles in addition to any physical damages they may have sustained. In addition to honoring their service, we should consider honoring them with greater assistance and compassion.

The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen, narrated by Francois Chau, really made me want to lock away all of these people. They are all broken, pessimistic, and full of debauchery. Does that mean they need to be locked away? Not necessarily, but I certainly would not want to spend any time with them.

Nguyen picks up this story from where he left off in The Sympathizer, so I would recommend you read these in order. The narrator and his blood brother Bon arrive in France in the early 1980s, but the journey in the boat is the most compelling part of this novel.

***May Be Spoilers Below***

Our narrator is still of more than one mind about things, and he pulls from philosophies and French culture while in France. Perhaps it is the influence of living in France with his fake aunt. There is still the tug between colonialism/capitalism and communism and a bifurcated identity that keeps our narrator drifting further into trouble as a drug-dealer.

I found this den of inequity unsettling, as you should, and even the narrator is left wiggling in his seat on more than one occasion. However, I felt that too much of the narration focused on nudity, body, sex, etc., rather than on the spy’s struggle to overcome his bi-racial identity and his re-education in the communist camps or the capitalist world he finds himself in. The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen, narrated by Francois Chau, is about his character’s inability to be committed and the existential crisis of his own making.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer is a New York Times best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Other honors include the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel from the Mystery Writers of America, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction from the American Library Association, the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, a Gold Medal in First Fiction from the California Book Awards, and the Asian/Pacific American Literature Award from the Asian/Pacific American Librarian Association. His other books are Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction) and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. He is the Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. His next book is a short story collection, The Refugees, forthcoming in February 2017 from Grove Press.

Other Reviews:

Mailbox Monday #630

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

ALERT: We’re looking for a new host to help us with MM — if you have experience with WordPress or Mr. Linky, feel free to apply.

Here’s what we received:

Little Wars by W. Luther Jett, which I purchased from Kelsay Books.

You have in your hands poems of a mournful witness-nearly all evoke a tone of bitterness over the devastation and trauma of endless wars. The book’s ironic title is a purposeful oxymoron: “there are no / little wars-no distance / we cannot reduce to nothing.” Luther Jett’s poetry voices itself in precise diction and nuanced rhythms that grab hold of your attention and do not let go.

-Merrill Leffler, Author of Mark the Music

Compassion-both its presence and its absence-interests W. Luther Jett. His previous collections Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father and Our Situation explored trauma and healing. Little Wars digs for the roots of pain in the twentieth century’s geopolitical conflicts, from World War II to Bosnia. The people in these poems go about their daily lives as the bombs fall, trying-and too often failing-to retain their human connection, deepening “the wound we make of breathing.” Jett’s sorrow pours out in the tones of an Old Testament prophet or catches, choking, in his throat. In this raw-edged, lyrical collection, Jett absolves no one: the fault is ” . . . ours, ours, and ours alone, our making / because we refuse to make stars / out of the coals / that burn in our hearts.”

-Katherine E. Young, Author of Woman Drinking Absinthe and Day of the Border Guards , Poet Laureate Emerita, Arlington, VA

Little Wars is a moving and deeply disturbing series of poems. From the poppies symbolizing the dead soldiers of World War I to the destruction of the Mostar Bridge in the Bosnian War, Jett recounts “the cities leveled and the fields / upchurned” in war’s path. The ubiquity of current combat, ever rumbling, is in these poignant pages too, and the survivors always left “waiting / for the siren’s blast, the tramp / of boots along the stairs.”

-Kim Roberts, Author of A Literary Guide to Washington, DC

My Audible Downloads:

What did you receive?