On Such a Full Sea

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Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated, 2014 - FICTION - 352 pages
367 Reviews
“Watching a talented writer take a risk is one of the pleasures of devoted reading, and On Such a Full Sea provides all that and more. . . . With On Such a Full Sea, [Chang-rae Lee] has found a new way to explore his old preoccupation: the oft-told tale of the desperate, betraying, lonely human heart.”—Andrew Sean Greer, The New York Times Book Review

“I've never been a fan of grand hyperbolic declarations in book reviews, but faced with On Such a Full Sea, I have no choice but to ask: Who is a greater novelist than Chang-rae Lee today?”—Porochista Khakpour, The Los Angeles Times

From the beloved award-winning author of Native Speaker and The Surrendered, a highly provocative, deeply affecting story of one woman’s legendary quest in a shocking, future America.


On Such a Full Sea takes Chang-rae Lee’s elegance of prose, his masterly storytelling, and his long-standing interests in identity, culture, work, and love, and lifts them to a new plane. Stepping from the realistic and historical territories of his previous work, Lee brings us into a world created from scratch. Against a vividly imagined future America, Lee tells a stunning, surprising, and riveting story that will change the way readers think about the world they live in.

In a future, long-declining America, society is strictly stratified by class. Long-abandoned urban neighborhoods have been repurposed as highwalled, self-contained labor colonies. And the members of the labor class—descendants of those brought over en masse many years earlier from environmentally ruined provincial China—find purpose and identity in their work to provide pristine produce and fish to the small, elite, satellite charter villages that ring the labor settlement.

In this world lives Fan, a female fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore), when the man she loves mysteriously disappears. Fan’s journey to find him takes her out of the safety of B-Mor, through the anarchic Open Counties, where crime is rampant with scant governmental oversight, and to a faraway charter village, in a quest that will soon become legend to those she left behind.

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Fascinating storytelling. - Goodreads
Beautiful writing but frustrating book. - Goodreads
Lee's prose is really beautiful and poetic. - Goodreads
Very awkwardly written, with a weak plot. - Goodreads
LOVE the prose in this book. - Goodreads
The writing is amazing. - Goodreads

Review: On Such a Full Sea

User Review  - John Gillespie - Goodreads

The narrative voice is the most distinctive feature in this dystopian novel. Like Never Let me Go, the feeling of nostalgia transcends the somewhat inevitable unwinding of the plot, but I don't feel ... Read full review

Review: On Such a Full Sea

User Review  - Alison Gates - Goodreads

A really unfulfilling book. I did not like the narrative voice - it was too passive and the book would have been more interesting if told from Fan's perspective. However, I continued to read the book with hopes that the ending would be fulfilling, but it was a terrible disappointment! Read full review

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About the author (2014)

Chang-rae Lee is the author of Native Speaker, winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN/Hemingway Award for first fiction; A Gesture Life; Aloft; and The Surrendered, winner of the Dayton Peace Prize and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Selected by The New Yorker as one of the ?20 Writers for the 21st Century,” Chang-rae Lee is Professor professor in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University and the a Shinhan Distinguished Visiting Professor at Yonsei University.

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