Monday, February 05, 2007

Vacation Book Report #6

A Gesture Life (1999) by Chang-rae Lee

**** out of five

I was a little unsure of this book given that all the endorsements on the back cover were for Lee's first book, Native Speaker (1995), although that is not surprising when I find that Native Speaker won the PEN/Hemingway Award, QPB's New Voices Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, the Oregon Book Award, and the American Book Award.

A Gesture Life started slowly, introducing the main character, 'Doc' Hata, and his exemplary life in his bland surburban community on the outskirts of New York City. The book slowly opens up as Doc describes his distant past as a medic in the Japanese army during WWII (where he fell in love with a comfort girl), to his more recent difficulties with his adopted daughter Sunny. He is a great storyteller.

The prose is lovely, clean and lyrical, and I was not surprised to learn on the Penguin website that Lee is the director of the MFA program at Hunter College in New York City.

I look forward to reading Native Speaker.

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