Native Speaker

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Riverhead Books, 1995 - Fiction - 324 pages
10 Reviews
Henry Park is a spy who works for a private company with international connections. Reared in suburban New York in a traditional Korean household, with its lack of emotional display and an inescapable feeling of foreignness, he is a natural: the invisible other, the silent observer who is always present but never known. His assignments are mostly with foreigners, people like himself, who stand on the periphery of a culture and who are eager to embrace him as their own. But his life is falling to pieces - his young son has died tragically, his wife is leaving him, and his boss is watching his every move. Then Henry is assigned to spy on a rising Korean-American New York City councilman, John Kwang.
The first Korean he knows of to play a public role in American life, Kwang represents for Henry the shining success of the immigrant, the father he never had, Korean values matched with American vigor. But as Henry is drawn into Kwang's confidence and love, he finds his sense of family and culture, his very identity, threatened by the job he must do. Against the turbulent background of New York City politics and growing ethnic tensions, Park must finally come to emotional terms with his American wife and the loss of their son, and with his belated recognition of who he is.

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User Review  - SqueakyChu - LibraryThing

Henry Park, the son of a Korean grocer who lives in New York, is deserted suddenly by his Caucasian American wife. Reflecting back on his life and the events that led him to this situation, he ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Clara53 - LibraryThing

Henry Park has an unusual job. This in itself might have been plenty to build a story about. But Chang-rae Lee's protagonist, a native-born Korean American, bares his soul and examines not only his ... Read full review


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About the author (1995)

Chang-rae Lee is an assistant professor of creative writing the University of Oregon.

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