Surrealpolitik: The Quiet American

Author: Graham Greene

New York: Penguin (2004, first published in 1955)

Quick Summary

It's a love story about death. Set in Vietnam in the 1950s when it was still largely a French war, but well notes the incipient American incursion and is prescient in many ways. Features the CIA behind the bombing of civilians, partly by accident. Themes of the malleability and multiplicity of truth, lies, and betrayal pervade both the personal story of the love triangle (quadrangle really, if we count Fowler's wife back home) and the political story, in which the media selectively present narratives as reality according to convenience, contingency, and necessity.


There are 3 quotes currently associated with this book.

When I opened my door I could tell my room had been searched: everything was tidier than I ever left it. (page 13)
Tags: [Politics & Novels, Literary/Poetic, Surveillance]
Pyle had been silent a long while, and I had nothing more to say. Indeed I had said too much already. He looked white and beaten and ready to faint, and I thought, 'What's the good? He'll always be innocent, you can't blame the innocent, they are always guiltless. All you can do is control them or eliminate them. Innocence is a kind of insanity.' (page 155)
Tags: [Literary/Poetic, Madness]
"These people love to gamble and when they have lost everything they kill themselves. Perhaps I would not have become a policeman if I had known how much time I would have to spend in mortuaries. I do not like the smell of ammonia. Perhaps after all I will have a beer." (page 159)
Tags: [Literary/Poetic, Crime/Noir]