The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee

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Synopsis

Read an essay by Chang-rae Lee here.

The bestselling, award-winning writer of Native Speaker, A Gesture Life, and Aloft returns with his biggest, most ambitious novel yet: a spellbinding story of how love and war echo through an entire lifetime.

With his three critically acclaimed novels, Chang-rae Lee has established himself as one of the most talented writers of contemporary literary fiction. Now, with The Surrendered, Lee has created a book that amplifies everything we've seen in his previous works, and reads like nothing else. It is a brilliant, haunting, heartbreaking story about how love and war inalterably change the lives of those they touch.

June Han was only a girl when the Korean War left her orphaned; Hector Brennan was a young GI who fled the petty tragedies of his small town to serve his country. When the war ended, their lives collided at a Korean orphanage where they vied for the attentions of Sylvie Tanner, the beautiful yet deeply damaged missionary wife whose elusive love seemed to transform everything. Thirty years later and on the other side of the world, June and Hector are reunited in a plot that will force them to come to terms with the mysterious secrets of their past, and the shocking acts of love and violence that bind them together.

As Lee unfurls the stunning story of June, Hector, and Sylvie, he weaves a profound meditation on the nature of heroism and sacrifice, the power of love, and the possibilities for mercy, salvation, and surrendering oneself to another. Combining the complex themes of identity and belonging of Native Speaker and A Gesture Life with the broad range, energy, and pure storytelling gifts of Aloft, Chang-rae Lee has delivered his most ambitious, exciting, and unforgettable work yet. It is a mesmeriz­ing novel, elegantly suspenseful and deeply affecting.
 

About Chang-rae Lee

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CHANG-RAE LEE is the author of Native Speaker, winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for first fiction, A Gesture Life, and Aloft. Selected by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best writers under forty, Chang-rae Lee teaches writing at Princeton University.
 
Published January 11, 2010 by Riverhead Books. 482 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Surrendered

Publishers Weekly

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Lee's masterful fourth novel (after Aloft ) bursts with drama and human anguish as it documents the ravages and indelible effects of war. June Han is a starv

Oct 26 2009 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

The New York Times

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At the same time we are given hints of what their lives might have been like had war and the madness of history not intervened — alternate lives in which Hector stayed in the small working-class town where he was born in upstate New York, June grew up in Korea with her parents and siblings, and...

Mar 08 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

The New York Times

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Chang-rae Lee is fond of words like “accrete” and “accrue,” words that try to name the slow, almost imperceptible processes by which experience acquires weight, mass and, if you’re lucky, meaning.

Mar 12 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

The Guardian

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Chang-rae Lee's fourth novel differs from the previous three in being told from the point of view of an omniscient – or, at any rate, well-informed – third-person narrator and being concerned with origins rather than destinations.

May 23 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

The Guardian

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The Surrendered by Chang-Rae Lee Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop "The journey was nearly over," begins The Surrendered, Chang-Rae Lee...

Jun 19 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

NPR

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A massive phalanx of refugees had met the train at the last station, and in the time it took her siblings to relieve themselves by the side of the tracks they had lost their place and had had to climb the rusted ladder between the cars, June running alongside for fifty meters until her brother wa...

Mar 30 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

AV Club

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In narrating the continent-spanning relationship between an American GI and a Korean refugee, Chang-rae Lee’s fourth novel, The Surrendered, seems to be making a connection between his acclaimed debut, Native Speaker, whose protagonist is Korean-American, and the uneasy suburbanite of 2004’s Alof...

Mar 18 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

Entertainment Weekly

For the start of his fourth novel, Chang-rae Lee drops his reader on top of a train car barreling through the night.

Mar 03 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

The Washington Post

Hector's long-ago relationship with June was, to say the least, complex: Not only was he once June's rival for Sylvie's attention, carrying on an affair with the married missionary woman that ended catastrophically;

Mar 09 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

The Telegraph

The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee “The journey was nearly over,” begins The Surrendered, inviting scepticism, not least because there are nearly 470 pages to go.

May 10 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

Christian Science Monitor

The author of “A Gesture Life” and “Aloft” has already proven himself a literary force to be reckoned with, but he’s ratcheted things up a notch with his epic of grief and survival, The Surrendered.

Mar 26 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

Dallas News

Chang-Rae Lee's powerful fourth novel begins with a desperate journey.

Mar 14 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

Review (Barnes & Noble)

For anyone who's ever worried that contemporary literary novels fail to address crucial historical narratives or juicy, red-blooded romance (most recently, the Virginia Quarterly Review's editor noted that "novelists and story writers alike have largely ignored the wars," while Katie Roiphe lamen...

Mar 09 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

About.com

Chang-rae Lee's three previous novels have moved him into the forefront of contemporary literature.

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The New Yorker

And this does not even touch on the small change of fictional narrative: how strange it is, when you think about it, that thousands of novels are published every year, in which characters all have different names (whereas, in real life, doesn’t one always have at least three friends named John, a...

Mar 15 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

Oprah.com

As the characters' destinies intersect, time periods and locales shift from 1934 China to 1950 Korea to 1986 Manhattan, where Hector joins June, now a wealthy antiques dealer, in the search for her son, who left home eight years earlier.

Mar 12 2010 | Read Full Review of The Surrendered

Oprah.com

It might not sound like a fun read—467 pages of graphic descriptions of the physical and emotional cruelties inflicted by war—yet Chang-rae Lee's The Surrendered, an exploration of the corrosiveness of survivor guilt, is impossible to put down...Read more

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Reader Rating for The Surrendered
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