The Surrendered – Chang-rae Lee

What a very deep and thought-provoking novel.

Alternating in time from present day, June is selling off everything to go on a journey to find her son.  Time is of the essence.

She inherits the help of a private investigator who is tracking down some people who she used to have in her life that she hasn’t forgotten per sey, but has definitely let go of since she has arrived in America.  Hector – a down on his luck man of all trades sort of person, whom June has a bit of a storied past with.  They met on a dirt road in a deserted country after the Korean War.  They were going to the same orphanage – June as one of the orphans, Hector as a handyman.

The newly arrived Reverend Tanner and his wife turn the orphanage back around on the right track.  They are from the Pacific Northwest, giving of their lives to the less fortunate around the world.  The reverend’s wife has transformed the orphanage as well as herself.

When the past comes back to haunt the Reverend’s wife…

June and Hector finally meet after being apart for the last 40 years.  June has been a successful business woman, whereas, Hector has been going from job to job, bar to bar barely existing, getting by on what he can.  When they meet up, Hector doesn’t want to talk to her, but after he sees June and how fragile she is, he cannot deny to help her in her quest.  She doesn’t tell him right away what exactly that is, eventually it is all told and revealed. Even the dark harrowing stories they both have from the Korean War that have made them stronger, belittled them, changed them.

This deep, dark novel give you the sense they all of the characters have surrendered themselves in what lives they lived whether it was in Korea, or America.  Was it a justified surrendering, or was it just taken from them to be able to survive, to move onto the next day, week, month.  What has it cost them? Has it made them a better person, a worse person? Has it changed their lives for the better or worse?

The deep thought-provoking feelings in the instances give me shivers up my back and neck.

Penguin / Riverhead Books

Chang rae is interviewed on radio – The full episode

Become a Fan of Chang rae Lee on Facebook


4 thoughts on “The Surrendered – Chang-rae Lee

  1. I am really looking forward to Surrendered. I was hoping to get the audio, but don’t see that it is available. Your review increases my desire to read this one, so thanks.

  2. Pingback: The Surrendered – Chang-Rae Lee – Farm Lane Books Blog

  3. Pingback: The Surrendered – Chang-Rae Lee | Just Books

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