The Sympathizer, directed by Park Chan-wook and starring Robert Downey Jr and Sandra Oh, is one of the top-watched show on HBO right now. But before it was a television series, it was a novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Both the book and the series tell the story of the Captain, a communist mole in South Vietnam who comes to the US as a refugee as the Vietnam war is ending. On today’s episode, Lilah talks to Viet about the themes of The Sympathizer, and what it was like to help reimagine his book for a TV series.

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We love hearing from you. Lilah is on Instagram @lilahrap. We’re on X @lifeandartpod and on email at lifeandart@ft.com. We are grateful for reviews on Apple and Spotify. And please share this episode with your friends!

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Links (all FT links get you past the paywall):

The Sympathizer, starring Robert Downey Jr and Sandra Oh is available on HBO

–You can find Viet Thanh Nguyen’s book The Sympathizer and its sequel The Committed wherever books are sold

– Lilah’s interview with Nguyen about his recent memoir A Man of Two Faces was published as a Lunch with the FT: https://on-ft-com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/3UtjDlm

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Special FT subscription offers for Life and Art podcast listeners, from 50% off a digital subscription to a $1/£1/€1 trial, are here: http://ft.com.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/lifeandart

Read a transcript of this episode on FT.com

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