Cross-cutting between the three protagonists' perspectives at different points in their lives, Lee effectively builds suspense around a series of mysteries. How did June get to New York, and succeed in life?
What was her relationship with her late husband? How did June and Hector come to marry and have a child? Why did they separate?
What happened to Sylvie — first in Manchuria, and then in Korea? Why did Nicholas disappear? Who surrendered what, to whom, and why? The problem with The Surrendered , despite Lee's characteristically elegant prose his first two novels entirely deserved the plaudits and praise they received , is that few of these questions are adequately answered.
June's relationships with everyone but Sylvie remain sketched in; apart from the few years they all spent at the orphanage after the war, we learn only the bare outline of the rest of her life. Hector's experiences are considerably more distinct: In fact, Hector has been cursed — by an author willing to sacrifice both psychology and probability to the contrivances of an overwrought plot.
During the war, carnage can multiply: But catastrophe continues to pursue Hector even in peacetime: A late car crash — in which he dispatches not one but two characters — is necessary to achieve a purely symbolic and quite unconvincing denouement. Sylvie's allure and June's determination grow just as excessive as Hector's misfortune.
Sylvie was taught by her parents that "this world was littered with those cut off in mid-bloom, all this wasted beauty and grace, and that it was their humble task to gather as many as they could and replant them.
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Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. With his three critically acclaimed novels, Chang-rae Lee has established himself as one of the most talented writers of contemporary literary fiction. 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. The meticulous narrative unfolds over 52 years and across three continents. Nothing is rushed; nothing is overlooked. We can even feel the buzz of a window pane on our fingertips as rumbling Japanese military vehicles approach along a gravel road…Lee understands that in art and in stories what is perhaps most valuable is not what can be explained but what can be felt.
The final paragraph of his beautiful and tragic novel is as sublime and transcendent as any I can remember.
Lee has created a masterpiece of moral and psychological imagination unsparing in its illumination of the consequences of bloodshed and war. The settings and times are masterfully interwoven to form an elegant, disturbing inquiry into courage, love, loyalty, and mercy.
This is a book to read in two or three long sittings, gulping pages, turning them as fast as possible to reach the perfect, inevitable ending. In a patiently developed and intermittently slowly paced narrative that covers a year span and whose events occur in four countries and on three continents, the entangled histories of three protagonists are revealed. Hector Brennan himself in flight from the memory of a painful loss.
Chang-rae Lee, the bestselling and award-winning author of Native Speaker, A Gesture Life, and Aloft returns with his most ambitious novel yet-a spellbinding. “Life, gathering,” reads one full sentence in his ferocious and lyrical new novel, “ The Surrendered,” and you couldn't ask for a better two-word.
The characterizations of Hector and Sylvie are astonishingly rich and complex, and the risk taken in depicting the adult June as the woman readers will hope she would not become is triumphantly vindicated. Powerful, deeply felt, compulsively readable and imbued with moral gravity, the novel does not peter out into easy redemption. About The Surrendered Chang-rae Lee, the bestselling and award-winning author of Native Speaker, A Gesture Life , and Aloft returns with his most ambitious novel yet-a spellbinding story of how love and war echo through an entire lifetime.
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Oops, then we wouldn't have had a reason to go to Europe to look for him and there goes half of the story. The writing is gorgeous. Published March 9th by Riverhead Books first published October 29th I don't have my copy in front of me as I write this, but then I don't need to it remember one completely breathtaking sentence, just two words long: They surrender all to the driving impeccable thrusts of cruelty that comprise their lives, their simple existence somehow being enough. He fails at everything he attempts - if another person is involved.