Chang-Rae Lee

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Chang-rae Lee
Chang-rae Lee speaks to a University of Michigan class about his new novel, On Such a Full Sea.
Born July 29, 1965
Occupation novelist
Nationality USA (naturalized)
Notable work(s) Native Speaker; Aloft
Notable award(s) PEN/Hemingway Award
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature
Asian American Literary Awards
Chang-Rae Lee
Hangul 이창래
Hanja 李昌來
Revised Romanization I Chang-rae
McCune–Reischauer Yi Ch'ang-rae

Chang-rae Lee (born July 29, 1965) is a Korean American novelist and a professor of creative writing at Princeton University,[1] where he has served as the director of Princeton's Program in Creative Writing.

Early life[edit]

Lee was born in South Korea in 1965. He emigrated to the United States with his family when he was 3 years old.[2] Raised in Westchester, New York, Lee attended Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. He graduated from Yale University with a degree in English and from the University of Oregon with a MFA in writing.[3] He worked as a Wall Street financial analyst for a year before turning to writing full-time.[2]


Lee's first novel, Native Speaker (1995), won numerous awards including the PEN/Hemingway Award.[1] The novel centers around a Korean American industrial spy, explores themes of alienation and betrayal as felt or perpetrated by immigrants and first-generation citizens, and played out in local politics.[2] In 1999, he published his second novel, A Gesture Life. This elaborated on his themes of identity and assimilation through the narrative of an elderly Japanese-American doctor who remembers treating Korean comfort women during World War II.[4] For this book, Lee received the Asian American Literary Award.[5] His 2004 novel Aloft received mixed notices from the critics and featured Lee's first protagonist who is not Asian American, but a disengaged and isolated Italian-American suburbanite forced to deal with his world.[6] It received the 2006 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in the Adult Fiction category.[7] His 2010 novel The Surrendered won the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was a nominated finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.[8] Lee's most recent novel, On Such A Full Sea (2014) is set in a dystopian future version of the American city of Baltimore, Maryland called B-Mor where the main character, Fan, is a Chinese-American laborer working as a diver in a fish farm.[9]

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ a b Minzesheimer, Bob (March 16, 2010). "Chang-rae Lee's 'Surrendered': Unrelentingly sad yet lovely". USA Today. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Garner, Dwight (September 5, 1999). "Interview: Adopted Voice". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Nguyen, Stacy (March 10, 2010). "Chang-rae Lee: On being Korean American, a novelist, and his family". Northwest Asian Weekly. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  4. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (August 31, 1999). "'A Gesture Life': Fitting In Perfectly on the Outside, but Lost Within". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  5. ^ The Asian American Writers' Workshop - Awards
  6. ^ Dean, Tamsin (June 21, 2004). "High and dry". The Telegraph. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  7. ^ APALA Past Award Winners
  8. ^ The 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners Fiction
  9. ^ Leyshon, Cressida (January 7, 2014). "'The Chorus of "We": An Interview With Chang-rae Lee". The New Yorker. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Wood, James (15 March 2010). "A Critic at Large: Keeping it Real". The New Yorker 86 (4): 71–75. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 

External links[edit]