The Language of Good-bye: A Novel

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Dutton, 2001 - Fiction - 343 pages
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"When starting a new marriage or a new life in another country, how do you relinquish the past so that you may successfully begin anew without losing a sense of who you have become? What is the cost of leaving a country, a child, a marriage? What is the cost of not leaving? These are the questions Maribeth Fischer asks in The Language of Good-bye, an accomplished, provocative debut novel." "For Annie and Will, who have left their marriages to be together, the future is fraught with the complications of starting over. Both have left pieces of themselves behind: For Annie, it is the husband and friend she has known since childhood; for Will, it is the five-year-old daughter he adores. And for the Korean-born Sungae, one of Annie's English-as-a-second-language students, it is a search for the words that will help her resolve the sorrows of her tragic history." "As fifty-seven years of Sungae's once protected past slowly pour out of her in a sea of English verse, she is finally able to fill her blank canvases with acrylic images from her memory. Her story unravels in ways that will have consequences not only for Sungae, but for Annie and Will as well as their exes. At its heart, this is a novel about the choices we make and the repercussions of those choices on ourselves and on others. As Sungae explains, "Duty is like an ancient tree which has survived many seasons. Love is only the blossom." In one way or another, success in their new lives depends on each character's ability to find his or her own balance between desire and obligation."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A carefully plotted first novel self-consciously details the long reach of the past as foreign students struggle to forget what they have left behind, and their teacher, already married, falls in love ... Read full review


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About the author (2001)

Maribeth Fischer is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the Smartt Family Prize, & has been twice been mentioned for a notable essay in "Best American Essays". She has taught creative writing & English as a second language in Baltimore for nine years. Her creative essays have appeared in "The Iowa Review", "The Yale Review", & the "Pushcart Prize XX: Best of the Small Presses". She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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