Book six



The Surrendered

Chang Rae Lee

S Korea


This is not a novel about war. This is a novel about a journey that takes several characters through the various battlefields of China, Korea, the human heart, heroin, sexual violence and religious hypocrisy.  This is a story of awakening.  This is a story of death. This is a story that could slap you across the face just as easily as it could pull you into the grips of a warm embrace.


There is no art in war, but there is art as a result of war. The lives of these characters are just that; cause and effect, push and pull slash and burn. Geopolitics, proselytizing and alcohol mix together in a tapestry of sound and vision bringing together a cast, at times innocent or at least unsuspecting, of human souls sculpting out as best they can their lives from this marble slab we call humanity.


At once powerful and poignant I told a group of my students that if it were a movie I would have closed my eyes to avoid seeing certain scenes. I can not un see them now, nor do I want to in fact.  They bring credibility that only violence seems capable of.  A sharp jarring of the nerves as you hear the whiz of a dentists’ drill and dig your fingernails into the foam covered arm rests hoping for a quick and painless end.


We are all in a sense orphans, surrendered unto ourselves, our lives skipping across the smooth surface of a lake like polished stone leaving ripples in our wake beyond our control.

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