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.