Quotes from The Sympathizer

Viet Thanh Nguyen ·  371 pages

Rating: (39.8K votes)


“Nothing is ever so expensive as what is offered for free.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“We don’t succeed or fail because of fortune or luck. We succeed because we understand the way the world works and what we have to do. We fail because others understand this better than we do.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“If youth was not wasted, how could it be youth?”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“While it is better to be loved than hated, it is also far better to be hated than ignored.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“As Hegel said, tragedy was not the conflict between right and wrong but right and right , a dilemma none of us who wanted participate in history could escape.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer



“I could live without television, but not without books.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Besides my conscience, my liver was the most abused part of my body.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Now a guarantee of happiness—that's a great deal. But a guarantee to be allowed to pursue the jackpot of happiness? Merely an opportunity to buy a lottery ticket. Someone would surely win millions, but millions would surely pay for it.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“I was in close quarters with some representative specimens of the most dangerous creature in the history of the world, the white man in a suit.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Remember, you're not half of anything, you're twice of everything.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer



“It is always better to admire the best among our foes rather than the worst among our friends”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Americans on the average do not trust intellectuals, but they are cowed by power and stunned by celebrity.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“I had an abiding respect for the professionalism of career prostitutes, who wore their dishonesty more openly than lawyers, both of whom bill by the hour.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Your problem isn’t that you think too much; your problem is letting everyone know what you’re thinking.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Country music was the most segregated kind of music in America, where even whites played jazz and even blacks sang in the opera. Something like country music was what lynch mobs must have enjoyed while stringing up their black victims. Country music was not necessarily lynching music, but no other music could be imagined as lynching’s accompaniment. Beethoven’s Ninth was the opus for Nazis, concentration camp commanders, and possibly President Truman as he contemplated atomizing Hiroshima, classical music the refined score for the high-minded extermination of brutish hordes. Country music was set to the more humble beat of the red-blooded, bloodthirsty American heartland.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer



“She cursed me at such length and with such inventiveness I had to check both my watch and my dictionary.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Its refugee members were hobbled by their structural function in the American Dream, which was to be so unhappy as to make other Americans grateful for their happiness.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Our country itself was cursed, bastardized, partitioned into north and south, and if it could be said of us that we chose division and death in our uncivil war, that was also only partially true. We had not chosen to be debased by the French, to be divided by them into an unholy trinity of north, center, and south, and to be turned over to the great powers of capitalism and communism for a further bisection, then given roles as the clashing armies of a Cold War chess match played in air-conditioned rooms by white men wearing suits and lies.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Whatever people say about the General today, I can only testify that he was a sincere man who believed in everything he said, even if it was a lie, which makes him not so different from most.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Remember that the best medical treatment is a sense of relativism. No matter how badly you might feel, take comfort in knowing theres's someone who feels much worse.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer



“Some animals could see in the dark, but it was only humans who deliberately sought out every possible route into the darkness of our own interiors.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Americans are a confused people because they can't admit this contradiction. They believe in a universe of divine justice where the human race is guilty of sin, but they also believe in a secular justice where human beings are presumed innocent.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“All of us who are living are dying. The only ones not dying are the dead.,,To live was to be haunted by the inevitability of one's own decay, and to be dead was to be haunted by the memory of living.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Don't you see that Americans need the anti-American? While it is better to be loved than hated, it is also better to be hated than ignored.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“So it was that we soaped ourselves in sadness and we rinsed ourselves with hope, and for all that we believed almost every rumor we heard, almost all of us refused to believe that our nation was dead.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer



“Some will undoubtedly find this episode obscene. Not I! Massacre is obscene. Torture is obscene. Three million dead is obscene. Masturbation, even with an admittedly nonconsensual squid? Not so much. I, for one, am a person who believes that the world would be a better place if the word “murder” made us mumble as much as the word “masturbation.” Still,”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Death would hurt only for a moment, which was not so bad when one considered how much, and for how long, life hurt.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“The most important thing to understand is that while we courted, Americans dated, a pragmatic custom whereby a male and a female set a mutually agreeable time to meet, as if to negotiate a potentially profitable business venture. Americans understood dating to be about investments and gains, short or long term , but we saw romance and courtship as being about losses. After all, the only worthwhile courtship involved persuading a woman who could not be persuaded, not a woman already predisposed to examine her calendar for her availability.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“Our proper mode in situations where demand was high and supply low was to elbow, jostle, crowd, and hustle, and, if all that failed, to bribe, flatter, exaggerate, and lie. I was uncertain whether these traits were genetic, deeply cultural, or simply a rapid evolutionary development. We had been forced to adapt to ten years of living in a bubble economy pumped up purely by American imports; three decades of on-again, off-again war, including the sawing in half of the country in '54 by foreign magicians and the brief Japanese interregnum of World War II; and the previous century of avuncular French molestation.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer


“I did not want to write this book as a way of explaining the humanity of Vietnamese. Toni Morrison says in Beloved that to have to explain yourself to white people distorts you because you start from a position of assuming your inhumanity or lack of humanity in other people’s eyes. Rather than writing a book that tries to affirm humanity, which is typically the position that minority writers are put into, the book starts from the assumption that we are human, and then goes on to prove that we’re also inhuman at the same time.”
― Viet Thanh Nguyen, quote from The Sympathizer



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Viet Thanh Nguyen
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