“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.”
In other media, award winners are often easily predicted. Not so in literature. More often than not, even insiders are surprised by those given top honors in any given year, and rarely does it reflect sales or popularity. That changes upon announcement, as the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, debut novel The Sympathizer, leapt in Amazon overall sales rankings from 27,587 to 88 overnight, even enjoying temporary status as #1 in Spies and Political Thrillers.
Viet Thanh Nguyen has penned a fascinating book of intrigue that examines the Vietnam War and its aftermath from the perspective of a double agent, and the author himself has said “my book has something to offend everyone.” It is a meaty, uncompromising story with moments of tenderness and even hilarity, and its new status as a Pulitzer winner may help earn the attention and audience it deserves.
Edited to add: This week The Sympathizer was announced as winner of Best First Novel from the Edgar Awards, one of the top mystery and suspense honors. Few books can boast this crossover!