June Han ha undici anni quando la guerra di Corea la priva dei genitori e dei fratelli, uccisi sotto i suoi occhi. Hector Brennan è un giovane soldato americano, scappato dalle meschinità della sua cittadina di provincia per riscattare una colpa che lo tormenta senza tregua. Le loro vite si incrociano, alla fine della guerra, in un poverissimo orfanotrofio di Seul, dove entrambi arrivano senza speranze e soli. Ad accoglierli, immediato oggetto della loro tacita rivalità, c'è Sylvie Tanner, una donna capace, con ...
June Han ha undici anni quando la guerra di Corea la priva dei genitori e dei fratelli, uccisi sotto i suoi occhi. Hector Brennan è un giovane soldato americano, scappato dalle meschinità della sua cittadina di provincia per riscattare una colpa che lo tormenta senza tregua. Le loro vite si incrociano, alla fine della guerra, in un poverissimo orfanotrofio di Seul, dove entrambi arrivano senza speranze e soli. Ad accoglierli, immediato oggetto della loro tacita rivalità, c'è Sylvie Tanner, una donna capace, con la sua generosità e il suo altruismo, di cambiare la vita di tutti quelli che la circondano. Trent'anni dopo, June e Hector si trovano entrambi a New York, ma ogni contatto tra loro è andato perduto. Sarà la sparizione inspiegabile del figlio di June a riunirli in una ricerca ostinata e assurda che li costringerà a confrontarsi con i segreti rimossi del loro passato, con le tracce incancellabili che gli sconvolgenti atti d'amore e di violenza hanno lasciato su di loro, unendoli in un piovoso pomeriggio di guerra nella foresta bombardata. Una storia accorata e avvolgente che ha portato questo libro ai posti più alti delle classifiche americane, raccogliendo un unanime consenso di critica che ha fatto citare al «New York Times» La scelta di Sophie . La scrittura superbamente controllata ed elegante di Chang-rae Lee insegue senza sosta, dalla Corea al New Jersey all'Italia, il viaggio di una donna e di un uomo messi di fronte alle loro ferite più insanabili, costretti a fare i conti con quello che resta delle loro vite quando l'amore e la guerra li toccano e li cambiano per sempre.
A native of Seoul, Korea, Chang-rae Lee emigrated to the U.S. with his parents when he was just three years old, and he's been fascinated with his adopted country ever since. His breakout first novel, Native Speaker, was a critical success on both sides of the Atlantic, and his latest novel, Aloft, continues to explore the American dream. As The New Yorker reflects, "The prose Chang-rae Lee writes is elliptical, riddling, poetic... beautifully made."
Chang-rae Lee landed on the literary scene with Native Speaker, a detective story about much more than just another crime. Detective Henry Park grows too attached to those he investigates as he discovers the connection between broad social questions and his personal failings. Critics responded, and Lee's debut received a string of recognition, including a Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Biography/Critical Appreciation Everyone agrees that Chang-rae Lee is a writer to watch. His debut novel, Native Speaker, (1995) won the American Book Award and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Plus, two literary cornerstones, The New Yorker and Granta, named him one of the twenty best American writers under forty.
Lee and his family emigrated from Seoul, South Korea to the United States in 1968. His family settled in Westchester, New York, and Lee eventually attended Yale and the University of Oregon, where he earned his M.F.A.
Native Speaker is a story about a Korean-American detective, Henry Park, whose investigative eye is eventually turned upon himself. The novel takes a challenging look at Park's effort reconcile his two cultures in an even larger culturally diverse setting, New York City. The language is simple, yet the reader is allowed a deep and intriguing look inside the head of the main character, the politics that affect him, and his struggles with love and cultures. The New York Times called Lee's debut "highly original," and the Literary Review raved, "... Native Speaker seems like a new kind of novel, the plainsong of unassimilated man, and in the murmur of his nascent voice is the soft clash of borders."
In 1999, Lee's second novel, A Gesture Life continued the themes of identity and assimilation. Lee wrote the novel over the course of four years, although it was originally about the experience of a Korean "comfort woman," forced to sexually service invading Japanese soldiers. Lee traveled to Korea and interviewed surviving comfort women, but two years into the novel, one of the characters, previously considered a minor one, captured Lee's imagination and wouldn't let go. Remarkably, Lee abandoned everything he had written except for one character -- Doc Hata.
Franklin "Doc" Hata is a reserved, older physician, Korean by birth, raised in Japan, and now living in New York City. Only after much needling by his daughter, Doc Hata begins to reveal his painful secrets: his time as a medic in the Japanese army during World War II, his love for one of the Korean comfort women, and the guilt that has kept him silent for most of his life. It's an unforgettable story, and The New York Times called the book "... a work of astonishing psychological acuity and compassion."
With the 2004 release of Lee's Aloft, once again, readers are treated to a portrait of a man in the throes of a reconciliation. Readers who expect Lee's novels to deal exclusively with Asian Americans will be pleasantly surprised to see the author flex his writing skills with the creation of Jerry Battle, the semi-retired head of a (mostly) white Long Island family. On the ground, Battle is inundated with family bickering, his upcoming 60th birthday, and the mystery surrounding his wife's death. Aloft in his small private plane, Battle escapes all of this, although only temporarily. His is the story of how to cope with responsibility -- to the past, and to the unknown.
Lee a writer and a teacher, as well as the director of the M.F.A. Program at Hunter College of City University in New York City. Those fortunate enough to be his students get to learn from the man who knows the stuff of human nature -- that the aftereffect of any act is the core of every great story, and that even the most conventional characters can bear the weight of unconventional story lines.
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"If I weren't a writer," Lee reveals in our interview, "I'd probably be working in the food and/or wine business, perhaps running a wine or coffee bar -- or even an Asian noodle soup shop."