Oh, my. What a great pleasure it is to come across an excellent book. Thanks to a recommendation from my wonderful neighbor, Susan Alexander, I have just finished reading Chang-rae Lee's A Gesture Life. Published in 1999, this book quickly garnered enthusiastic praise from critics and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. For good reason.
This is a rich and poignant story about a Japanese man of Korean descent who emigrated to the United States after World War II (in which he served the Imperial Army as a medic) and lives in a small town where he became the respected owner of a medical-supply store in upstate New York. Haunted by experiences during the war that make it difficult for him to form close relationships, even with his adopted daughter, "Doc" Hata lives a life of quiet respectability. The story is told through his thoughts, memories, and observations. Chang-rae Lee's prose is haunting, poetic, and serene. He writes of family, love, and loss in a heartbreaking way that is sure to stay with you for a long time.