Korean American Books

Summaries and reviews of fiction and nonfiction books by Korean American authors,
books about Korean Americans and Korea, and Korean literature in English translation,
including some academic works and a sampling on the Korean War

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee

Rich language describes a Korean-Japanese-American former WWII medic living quietly in Connecticut in a small provincial town. Because of his past in the Pacific War post of Burma in 1945, and the Korean comfort women there, he lives a gesture life, one where all is sacrified in order to fit in and have surface equanimity. His adopted Japanese daughter hates him; guesses that she serves some purpose in his life that has nothing to do with her. Townfolk support the lead characters with finesse--he avoids passion and loses love and living. Smoothly transitions to flashbacks from present-tense daily contemporary life. Lee excels in expressing nner emotion, grander themes and gravitas in soliloquies that ache the heart. Eloquent writing, dense and thoughtful.

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