|By||kimbofo (London, UK)|
Every so often you come across a book that makes you rejoice in the sheer beauty of the English language and the power of the novel to change your perspective on so many different things.
In A Gesture Life Chang-Rae Lee has delivered one of the most elegantly restrained pieces of fiction I have ever read and yet, despite the unhurried prose, it brims with suspense, so much so I was reluctant to put the book down and read it within a matter of days.
It's a rare, almost perfect novel that provides such an eloquent insight into the nature of human relationships that I don't honestly know how to condense the magic of this profoundly moving and deeply unsettling story into one short review that will do A Gesture Life any kind of justice.
In fact, I'd argue that the blurb on my Penguin edition, doesn't even come close to explaining what this story is about, and I suspect that most people would overlook the book entirely should they stumble upon it in a bookstore or library. Personally, I can't even remember why I bought it, other than the ringing one-word endorsements - "Stunning," New York Times Book Review; "Unforgettable," USA Today; "Mesmerising," San Francisco Chronicle Book Review - on the front cover must have spoken to me on some deeply unconscious level. Even so, this book lay unread in my bedside cabinet for nine months before I decided to pick it up.
And once I picked it up, I was taken on a sagacious journey that allowed me to walk in another man's shoes. The fact that that man was an elderly Japanese-American speaks volumes for Chang-rae Lee's abilities as a storyteller...
I will be discussing this novel with my Literature classes next week. The feedback I've had so far is that it's an amazing novel and everyone is eager to get together and have a go.