Native Speaker

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Riverhead Books, 1995 - Fiction - 324 pages
3 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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Native Speaker

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Assigned to spy on a fellow Korean American, Henry Park faces an acute crisis of cultural conscience. LJ's reviewer found Henry a "wonderful, honest creation." (LJ 2/1/95) 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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