📖: Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Committed (2021)
🍸: the remedy
Why this book?
In this sequel to The Sympathizer, we meet a traumatized version of the “man of two minds,” with a bullet lodged in his brain, scrambling his perspective of the world. Turning to philosophy and crime, the protagonist unpacks our problematic relationship with politics and power. This book is an incredible dive into the intellectual process of decolonizing one’s mind.
From the epic prologue to the epilogue, my mind was constantly blown as I followed the Captain’s thoughts. 🤯 He mulls over the love-hate relationship we have with our colonizers, the hypocrisy of revolutions, and the necessity of violence for “civilization.” So many dualities and paradoxes to deconstruct! As a former anthropology student, I appreciated the protagonist’s exploration of the dialectic to reconcile ideas that appear unreconcilable.
This book was equally evocative as it was provocative. As Francois Chau mentioned during The Committed book event on May 7th, the novel’s details immersed me in emotional memories of growing up Vietnamese: the food, drink, Tết celebrations, the Paris by Night inspired show. On the flip side, the book exposes the flawed parts of our culture, from over-romanticized cultural performances to Vietnamese manhood, and everything in between. Once again, no one is safe from the Captain’s scathing critique. Not our colonizers and certainly not us Vietnamese.
Click here for the replay of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Committed book event in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, featuring a lively conversation between the author and Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, Francois Chau, and Kim Ly. I’m grateful to be a part of this community that’s filled me with so much inspiration, self-love, and solidarity this year! 💖🥂
Why this drink?
For this pairing, I created THE REMEDY, which is a riff on The Penicillin cocktail, swapping out the whiskey for cognac — our protagonist’s drink of choice! 🥃 I hope this cognac-based drink will transport yourself to 1980’s Paris. 🇫🇷
2 oz cognac
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz ginger honey syrup
candied ginger and lemon peel
- Combine all ingredients in a shaker, and shake well.
- Strain the drink into a glass, over fresh ice. If you enjoy more spirit-forward drinks, you may also serve in a chilled coupe glass without ice.
- Garnish with candied ginger and lemon peel.
*How to make ginger honey syrup:
Heat 3/4 cup water, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 cup of thinly sliced or grated fresh ginger in a small saucepan over the stovetop until boiling. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. After turning off the heat, let the ginger steep until the mixture cools. Strain out the ginger before serving. Any leftover syrup may be refrigerated.
Another round, please! 🥂
You might also like:
Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer (2015)
Finished the book? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!