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Native Speakerby Chang-Rae Lee
Winner of the 1995 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award
Synopses & Reviews
Korean American Henry Parks is a "surreptitious, B+ student of life, illegal alien, emotional alien, Yellow peril: neo-American, stranger, follower, traitor, spy..." or so says his wife, in the list she writes upon leaving him. Henry is forever uncertain of his place, a perpetual outsider looking at American culture from a distance. And now, a man of two worlds, he is beginning to fear that he has betrayed both — and belongs to neither.
"[E]loquent, thought-provoking....Lee packs this story, whose intrigue is well measured and compelling, with insights into both current political events and timeless questions....This is an auspicious debut..." Publishers Weekly
"Lyrical, mysterious, and nuanced, the poignant moodiness...lingers long after the final page is turned....Beautifully written and intriguingly plotted..." Booklist
"The spy stuff is a little over the top, but in the end it sloughs off like so much dead skin, exposing the germination of a live and vibrant talent. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly
"Native Speaker is that great rarity: an eloquent page-turner. Beautifully crafted, enlightening, and heart-wrenching, it is a brilliant debut and a tremendous contribution to Asian-American literature." Gish Jen, author of Mona in the Promised Land
The debut novel from critically-acclaimed and New York Timesbestselling author Chang-rae Lee.
In Native Speaker, author Chang-rae Lee introduces readers to Henry Park. Park has spent his entire life trying to become a true American—a native speaker. But even as the essence of his adopted country continues to elude him, his Korean heritage seems to drift further and further away.
Park's harsh Korean upbringing has taught him to hide his emotions, to remember everything he learns, and most of all to feel an overwhelming sense of alienation. In other words, it has shaped him as a natural spy.
But the very attributes that help him to excel in his profession put a strain on his marriage to his American wife and stand in the way of his coming to terms with his young son's death. When he is assigned to spy on a rising Korean-American politician, his very identity is tested, and he must figure out who he is amid not only the conflicts within himself but also within the ethnic and political tensions of the New York City streets.
Native Speaker is a story of cultural alienation. It is about fathers and sons, about the desire to connect with the world rather than stand apart from it, about loyalty and betrayal, about the alien in all of us and who we finally are.
His most recent book, On Such a Full Sea, will be published in January 2014.
About the Author
Chang-rae Lee is the author of Native Speaker, winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for first fiction, A Gesture Life, Aloft, and The Surrendered, winner of the Dayton Peace Prize and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Selected by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best writers under forty, Chang-rae Lee teaches writing at Princeton University.
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