Sun, 20 March 2011
Chang-rae Lee speaks here with Claudia Cragg about his latest novel 'The Surrendered'. [See below for an extract from the book]. The Korean-American author was born in Seoul, South Korea and emigrated to the US in 1968, aged two. He grew up in the New York City area and began his university education at Yale, before moving on to the University of Oregon, where he earned an MFA. His first novel, "Native Speaker" won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the American Book Award and the ALA Book of the Year Award.
Another much acclaimed work "A Gesture Life" grew out of four years work. It originally focused on the experience of a Korean comfort woman, and was told from her perspective. Chang-rae Lee went to Korea to interview surviving comfort women. He currently directs the creative writing program at Princeton University in the US. His 2004 novel Aloft features an isolated suburbanite forced to deal with his world.
“It was June’s decision to climb atop the overcrowded train. Since that night she had often wondered if it would have been better to wait for the next one, or to have taken their chances on foot, or else steered the twins and herself far off the main road without any provisions and simply waited for the one merciful night that would lift them away forever. The twins would not have suffered and she would not be here now. For what had surviving all the days since gotten her, save a quelled belly? She had merely prolonged the march, and now that her hunger had an altogether different face, it was her heart that was deformed, twisting with an even homelier agony.”