Memorial Day weekend isn’t only about BBQ, base tans, and the beginning of summer. It’s also, and actually primarily, about remembering those who died in the country’s armed forces, and therefore a perfect time for picking up a book that centers on those very men and women, or versions of same. But if you’re like me, war isn’t exactly your favorite thing to think about (or talk about, or read about), especially on a nice long weekend. After all, war novels have a reputation for being hyper-masculine, mega-violent, and most importantly, sort of old-fashioned. But not all war novels are War Novels, so if you think you hate them, consider these possibilities for your holiday reading.
The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen
First of all, if you like being up on the book of the moment, this is it: a debut that pretty much everybody has been talking about. Oh, and it just won the Pulitzer. The novel follows a double agent in the Southern Vietnamese Army, and like any good thriller, a lot of balls get thrown up into the air quickly. But the most exciting thing about this novel is the voice, rhythmic and whirling, sometimes funny, sometimes incredibly dark, always captivating.