Synopses & Reviews
From an acclaimed novelist, an emotionally complex and riveting story of suspicion, innocence, and regret.
When a mail bomb explodes in the campus office next door, Lee, an Asian American math professor at a second-tier university in the Midwest, comes under suspicion. The authorities believe he may be the infamous brain bomber, an elusive terrorist whose primary targets are prominent scientists and mathematicians.
In the midst of campus tumult and grief over the star computer scientist who was killed by the bomb, Lee receives a disturbing letter from a figure in his past. Certain he is being targeted for revenge, he begins confronting key events in his life. Misunderstood by the people around him, Lee is not conscious that his behavior has begun to heighten suspicion in the minds of his colleagues, students, and neighbors, leading the FBI to designate him a person of interest and pushing his life and reputation to the verge of ruin.
Intricately plotted and engrossing, A Person of Interest asks how far one man can run from his past, and explores the impact of scrutiny and suspicion in an age of terror. With its propulsive drive and vividly realized characters, Susan Choi's latest novel is as thrilling as it is lyrical, and confirms her place as one of the most important young novelists chronicling the American experience.
"After fictionalizing elements of the Patty Hearst kidnapping for her second novel (the 2004 Pulitzer finalist American Woman), Choi combines elements of the Wen Ho Lee accusations and the Unabomber case to create a haunting meditation on the myriad forms of alienation. The suggestively named Lee, as he's called throughout, is a solitary Chinese migr math professor at the end of an undistinguished Midwestern university career. He remains bitter after two very different failed marriages, despite his love for Esther, his globe-trotting grown daughter from the first marriage. As the book opens, Lee's flamboyant, futurist colleague in the next-door office, Hendley, is gravely wounded when Hendley opens a package that violently explodes. Two pages later, a jealous, resentful Lee 'felt himself briefly thinking Oh, good.' As a did-he or didn't-he investigation concerning Lee, the novel's person of interest, unfolds, Lee's carefully ordered existence unravels, and chunks of his painful past are forced into the light. While a cagily sympathetic FBI man named Jim Morrison and Lee's former colleague Fasano (who links the bombings to several other technologists) play well-turned supporting roles, Choi's reflections from Lee's gruffly brittle point of view are as intricate and penetrating as the shifting intrigue surrounding the bomb. The result is a magisterial meditation on appearance and misunderstanding as it plays out for Lee as spouse, colleague, exile and citizen." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The ending, a redeeming one, is all action. That it is superbly told is no surprise. That its melodrama comes out as gravely real is due to Choi's profound rendering of her protagonist's estrangement in an estranged society, and even to the slow and hard-going detail with which she has established it." Boston Globe
"Choi's descriptive flair, the evocation of Lee's turmoil, and the reaction of colleagues and neighbors contribute to a different type of portraiture...than one would expect from what is in some respects a domestic-terror thriller." Chicago Tribune
"Choi's precise, cadenced prose alternates between plain-spokenness and lyrical dazzle. Her long, complex sentences compel us to follow wherever they go, and to admire the quiet authority, at once soothing and gripping, with which they arrive there." Francine Prose, New York Times
"The novel is a testament to Choi's deft handling of her material. She reworks the classic detective novel as literary fiction, and shows how, given the right set of circumstances, any one of us could be labeled 'a person of interest.'" San Francisco Chronicle
"The plot is intricate but the story never feels contrived or labored. Choi writes hard and true." Chicago Sun-Times
With its propulsive drive, vividly realized characters, and profound observations about soul and society, Pulitzer Prize-finalist Susan Choi's latest novel is as thrilling as it is lyrical, and confirms her place as one of the most important novelists chronicling the American experience. Intricately plotted and psychologically acute, A Person of Interest
exposes the fault lines of paranoia and dread that have fractured American life and asks how far one man must go to escape his regrets. Professor Lee, an Asian-born mathematician near retirement age would seem the last person to attract the attention of FBI agents. Yet after a colleague becomes the latest victim of a serial bomber, Lee must endure the undermining power of suspicion and face the ghosts of his past.
An intimately charged novel of desire and disaster from the author of American Woman and A Person of Interest
Regina Gottlieb had been warned about Professor Nicholas Brodeur long before arriving as a graduate student at his prestigious university high on a pastoral hill. He’s said to lie in the dark in his office while undergraduate women read couplets to him. He’s condemned on the walls of the women’s restroom, and enjoys films by Roman Polanski. But no one has warned Regina about his exceptional physical beauty—or his charismatic, volatile wife.
My Education is the story of Regina’s mistakes, which only begin in the bedroom, and end—if they do—fifteen years in the future and thousands of miles away. By turns erotic and completely catastrophic, Regina’s misadventures demonstrate what can happen when the chasm between desire and duty is too wide to bridge.
About the Author
Susan Choi is the author of American Woman, a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize, and The Foreign Student, which won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. She coedited with David Remnick the anthology Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker, and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.