Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Native Speaker by Chang-rae Lee


From Publishers Weekly
Espionage acts as a metaphor for the uneasy relationship of Amerasians to American society in this eloquent, thought-provoking tale of a young Korean-American's struggle to conjoin the fragments of his personality in culturally diverse New York City. Raised in a family and culture valuing careful control of emotions and appearances, narrator Henry Park, son of a successful Korean-American grocer, works as an undercover operative for a vaguely sinister private intelligence agency. He and his "American wife," Lelia, are estranged, partly as a result of Henry's stoical way of coping with the recent death of their young son. Henry is also having trouble at work, becoming emotionally attached to the people he should be investigating. Ruminating on his upbringing, he traces the path that has led to his present sorrow; as he infiltrates the staff of a popular Korean-American city councilman, he discovers the broader, societal context of the issues he has been grappling with personally. Writing in a precise yet freewheeling prose that takes us deep into Henry's head, first-novelist Lee packs this story, whose intrigue is well measured and compelling, with insights into both current political events and timeless questions of love, culture, family bonds and identity.

theteach

2 comments:

nonizamboni said...

One of my favoritenovels. Your review was well done.
I've avoided 'Gesture Life' because of the dehumanization and abuse involved but maybe I should pull my head out of the sand.
Thanks for sharing.
I found your blog on Queensize Funny Bone and I enjoyed my visit!

the teach said...

Thanks so much, nonizamboni! :D