DoubleX Audio Book Club on Chang-rae Lee's The Surrendered.

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May 6 2010 9:56 AM

DoubleX Audio Book Club: The Surrendered

Our critics discuss Chang-rae Lee's new novel.

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Illustration by Deanna Staffo. Click image to expand.
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This week, the DoubleX Audio Book Club discusses The Surrendered, by Chang-rae Lee, author of Native Speaker, A Gesture Life, and Aloft. The novel follows the fate of three characters who met at an orphanage after the Korean War: June Han, an orphaned survivor; Hector Brennan, a hard-drinking "failure grand and total;" and Sylvie, the frail and elusive missionary's wife with whom the other two are obsessed.

Emily Bazelon wonders whether the prose is somewhat melodramatic and overwrought, and lacking the simple elegance of Lee's other novels. Margaret Talbot worries about the excessive brutality in the novel. Hanna Rosin defends Lee's masterful descriptions of carnality, in war and sex. All agree that the characters are quite compelling even if the novel is heavy.

DoubleX podcasts appear every other Thursday. Become a fan of the DoubleXGabfest on Facebook. On May 20, we will be back with another news Gabfest.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

Margaret Talbot is a staff writer for The New Yorker.

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

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