A Gesture Life

A Gesture Life

Book - 1999
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His remarkable debut novel was called "rapturous" (The New York Times Book Review), "revelatory" (Vogue), and "wholly innovative" (Kirkus Reviews). It was the recipient of six major awards, including the prestigious Hemingway Foundation/PEN award. Now Chang-rae Lee has written a powerful and beautifully crafted second novel that leaves no doubt about the extraordinary depth and range of his talent.A Gesture Life is the story of a proper man, an upstanding citizen who has come to epitomize the decorous values of his New York suburban town. Courteous, honest, hardworking, and impenetrable, Franklin Hata, a Japanese man of Korean birth, is careful never to overstep his boundaries and to make his neighbors comfortable in his presence. Yet as his story unfolds, precipitated by the small events surrounding him, we see his life begin to unravel. Gradually we learn the mystery that has shaped the core of his being: his terrible, forbidden love for a young Korean Comfort Woman when he served as a medic in the Japanese army during World War II.In A Gesture Life, Chang-rae Lee leads us with dazzling control through a taut, suspenseful story about love, family, and community--and the secrets we harbor. As in Native Speaker, he writes of the ways outsiders conform in order to survive and the price they pay for doing so. It is a haunting, breathtaking display of talent by an acclaimed young author.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, c1999
ISBN: 9781573221467
Characteristics: 356 p. ; 22 cm


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Feb 06, 2014

You have to enjoy a pensive and paced book to get through this book, but for me I enjoyed it. The picture of the Japanese in WWII in Korea is well presented and critical to appreciating the protaganist's reserved approach to his life.

Jul 03, 2011

I found the novel difficult sometimes partly because I, too, am a single parent of an older girl adopted from South Korea. My daughter and I were going through a rough patch at the time, and I could identify all too well with the anguish of the parent, and of the girl, in the book. Their individual journeys were different from mine and my daughter's, but portrayed by the author so believably and, sometimes, searingly, I wondered if he, too, had had such an experience. I think the experiences of being a single adoptive parent, and of being a child half grown at the time of the adoption, are very different from what people assume. This book, so emotionally raw at times, did a better job at expressing some of what that path is like than has anything else I've read.

Dec 11, 2009

Sad, but moving.


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