Eine neue literarische Stimme aus Amerika in der Nachfolge Don DeLillos
Ein anständiger Mensch, ein aufrechter Bürger, ein erfolgreicher Geschäftsmann – das ist Doc Hata, der Held in Chang-rae Lees Roman. Die glatte Fassade des Hier und Jetzt bekommt jedoch zunehmend Risse, und eine erschreckende Vergangenheit bricht mit Gewalt hervor.
Doc Hata kam nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg aus Japan in die USA. Seine neue Existenz bringt ihm Anerkennung und Befriedigung. Doch als er sich zur Ruhe setzt, gerät sein so wohl geordnetes Dasein durch eine Reihe düsterer Ereignisse aus den Fugen, sieht er sich zur Selbsterkenntnis gezwungen. In fesselnden Rückblenden erinnert er noch einmal sein Leben und legt Schicht für Schicht verdrängte Erfahrungen frei: seine gescheiterte Liebe zu einer Nachbarin, das schmerzhaft in die Brüche gegangene Verhältnis zu seiner Adoptivtochter Sunny und vor allem das tragische Schicksal einer jungen Koreanerin, die während des Zweiten Weltkriegs in Burma von den Japanern erbarmungslos zur Prostitution gezwungen wurde. Diese Frau, deren Tod Hata mitverschuldet hat, war die große Liebe seines Lebens.
Chang-rae Lee gelingt es, in seinem Helden die Zerrissenheit zwischen zwei unterschiedlichen Kulturen eindringlich darzustellen. Mit seiner knappen, fein ziselierten Sprache arbeitet er subtil die innere Spannung der Hauptfigur heraus und macht den Roman zu einem literarischen Ereignis.
Erschienen am: 30.11.-0001
400 Seiten, gebunden mit SU
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»Not since Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Dayhas there been a novel so attentive to the interplay of dark memory and light manners...a beautiful, solitary, remarkably tender book.«
New York Times Book Review
»Exceptional...A beautifully tapestried story of seeking identity and acceptance in another culture while remaining separate from the tug of it.«
Christian Science Monitor
Leslie Brody, The Los Angeles Times Book Review
»Doc Hata, the quiet and reflective narrator of Chang-rae Lee’s powerful new novel, A Gesture Life, is always quick to explain that he isn’t really a doctor. He got his nickname because he sold medical supplies for many years in the American suburb where he still lives. Other aspect of his life aren’t precisely what they seem, either – his Japanese name, his comfortable place as a minority in town – but Hata is reluctant to acknowledge his own secrets. An imperturbable calm, stretches over his day-to-day existence like plastic wraps. Lee, the prize-winning author of Native Speaker, guides us across this complicated terrain without a false step. By rights, Life should be depressing. But the writing is sure and convincing vivid and the war story unforgettable. By the end of this masterly novel, all we are is exhilarated.«
»A Gesture Life is even more of an achievement [than Native Speaker]. It’s a beautiful, solitary, remarkably tender book that reveals the shadows that fall constantly from the past, the ones that move darkly on the lawns of the here and now.«
Andrew O\’Hagan, The New York Times Book Review
»A Gesture Life is the touching, multilayered rumination of an uneasy psyche. It is also a tragic, horrifying page-turner, whose evocation of wartime victims is unforgettable...a deeply involving tale.«
»Die vollendete Form des zeitkritischen Romans. Das Porträt weist weit über den Einzelfall hinaus.«
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
»The British are somehow embarrassed about property: they used to own half the world, but they lost that and gained instead the right to buy and sell their own public housing, a fact that few British novelist have ever touched. American writers are more straight down the line when it comes to real estate: they want to believe in it, and so do their characters. This is true of the fathers of Yoknapatawpha County, and no less so of the broken young things who live in Cheever country. In the United States, owning a house means you’re an American. Tending a lawn is patriotic. Franklin Hata, the narrator of Chang-rae Lee’s second novel, was born in Korea and grew up in Japan; now he owns a house in Bedley Run, N.Y., a town that lies about a 50-minute drive north of Manhattan. The house is a roomy Tudor revival – it may not be the grandest house in town, but it’s among the area’s »special properties« - and Doc Hata, as he is widely known, is befriended by a local real estate agent, who is sure she can get him a great price for it. But Doc is not quite ready to sell: although he’s in his 70’s, he still has few laps to swim in his nice pool and more than a little harmonizing to do in his American life. The accretion of wisdom in Lee’s novel is stunning. He expertly evokes the collision of unacceptable truth with the illusion of workaday serenity. In Native Speaker Lee displayed an admirable, lyrical restraint in the face of emotional subject: the difficult and sometimes perilous process of becoming an American, and staying one, with the losses and gains that such a battle for identity entails. A Gesture Life is even beautiful, solitary, remarkably tender book that reveals the shadows that fall constantly from the past, the ones that move darkly on the lawns of the here and now.«
New York Times Book Review
»Korean-American author Chang-rae Lee adds to the growing, but limited, body of fiction on the exploitation of thousands of women by the Japanese military during World War II. Fictional retelling of the plight of comfort women guarantees that their stories will not be forgotten, as much as the Japanese government may want them to be. Stifled memories about one woman in particular haunt the septuagenarian narrator of Lee’s wondrous second novel, A Gesture Life. Lee’s spare, careful and strangely poetic style suits the guarded speech of his genteel narrator, whether he is imparting rationalizations or elevations about his life. Lee achieves a measure skill in conveying the horror of wartime flashback scene, which reverberate throughout the rest of this finely crafted novel.«
»From the author of the award-winning Native Speaker (1995), a remarkable portrait of a distinctively tragic, expansive man coming of age in America. Doc Hata (once Kurohata), a Japanese-American pharmacist in the fraying town of Bedley Run, New York, is no troubled youth, which is the first of unexpectedand welcomefulfillments here: a story in which an American man appreciate[s] the comforts of real personhood, and its attendant secrets only after hes retired. A lifelong bachelor, Hata, a Japanese veteran of WWII, enjoys the comforts of a well-established, socially comfortable life. After a minor accident at home, Hata is taken to the hospital and hears of the death of Mary Burns, as well as news of his estranged daughter, Sunny. Having adopted Sunny when she was eight, Hata recalls the painful dissolution of his relation with hera breach that originated with the abortion he insisted on for his daughter when she was 18. Mary Burns, a widow who had not only helped Hata with Sunny but had been his lover, amicably leaves him after finding him unable to return her affection. Startled to feel such loneliness at the center of his otherwise contented life, Hata finds its root in his wartime months with Kkutaeh, an unforgettably evoked comfort woman who was consigned to Hatas care in his outpost during the war. Called »K«, she was a Korean-born, Japanese-raised woman of fine intelligence and sweeping grace, a companion soul he fell in love with but was unable to save from death. In these scenes, Lee’s prose and dramatic momentum carry a lean, rich precision to indelible effect: his writing is washed in a shimmer of suppressed grief, and it brings Hata to a bright, calm, right reconciliation with his daughter, his past, and with himself. Lee is a writer of exquisite intimacy and delicate disclosuresand in Hata, hes found the perfect means to explore these gifts.«
Über den Autor/ die Autorin
Chang-rae Lee, geboren 1965 in Korea, kam als Dreijähriger mit seinen Eltern in die USA. Nach dem Studium arbeitete er ein Jahr an der New Yorker Börse. Für seinen ersten Roman Native Speaker erhielt er u. a. den PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award; auch sein zweiter Roman A Gesture Life / Fremd im eigenen Leben wurde mehrfach ausgezeichnet. Lee ist Professor für Creative Writing an der Princeton University. Er lebt mit Frau und zwei Töchtern in Princeton.