When I was about five years old, I saw on the front page of The New York Times
a grainy black and white photo of sad, dirty, hopeless looking people. I asked my dad about it and he told me there was a war going on in a faraway country called Korea. I have been against war since that day. No matter how urbane he appears in his interviews, it is clear to me that Chang-rae Lee has written his antiwar manifesto in The Surrendered
. With his most powerful prose yet, Lee shows us that war damages people far beyond any other kind of abuse life offers and that persons damaged by the losses, violence and displacement of war will go to great lengths to work out either retribution or salvation.
In recent years I have felt that the technical level of current photo-journalism, while it brings us instant images of war, has also inured us to its horrors because of the...
Beyond the Book
A Memory of Solferino
, by Henry Dunant appears over and over throughout The Surrendered
. Sylvie acquired the book from her parents and brought it with her to the orphanage in Korea. She is pictured reading it many times and June eventually steals it from Sylvie. It is the impetus for June's final pilgrimage. Though it is out of print, A Memory of Solferino
can still be found through used booksellers and, at the time of writing, was available online here.
The Battle of Solferino was fought as part of the longer struggle for unification within the Italian peninsula during the nineteenth century. Before then, Italy as we now know it was divided between France, Austria, Spain and numerous small Italian principalities.
On June 24, 1859, the...