Concept

Chang-Rae Lee

Summary
Chang-rae Lee (born July 29, 1965) is a Korean-American novelist and a professor of creative writing at Stanford University. He was previously Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton and director of Princeton's Program in Creative Writing. Lee was born in South Korea in 1965 to Young Yong and Inja Hong Lee. He immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 3 years old to join his father, who was then a psychiatric resident and later established a successful practice in Westchester County, New York. In a 1999 interview with Ferdinand M. De Leon, Lee described his childhood as "a standard suburban American upbringing," in which he attended Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, before earning a B.A. in English at Yale University in 1987. After working as an equities analyst on Wall Street for a year, he enrolled at the University of Oregon. With the manuscript for Native Speaker as his thesis, he received a master of fine arts degree in writing in 1993 and became an assistant professor of creative writing at the university. On 19 June 1993 Lee married architect Michelle Branca, with whom he has two daughters. The success of his debut novel, Native Speaker, led Lee to move to Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he was hired to direct and teach in the prestigious creative-writing program. Lee's first novel, Native Speaker (1995), won numerous awards including the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Centered on a Korean-American industrial spy, the novel explores themes of alienation and betrayal as experienced by immigrants and first-generation citizens, in their struggle to assimilate in American life. 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 immigrant in the US who was born in Korea but later adopted to a Japanese family and remembers treating Korean comfort women during World War II. For this book, Lee received the Asian-American Literary Award.
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