Rated of 5
Why create? A theme explored in A Free Life
I read the BookBrowse review after I'd just begun the book, and almost put it down, but I'm glad I didn't. This is not a page-turning, fast-moving plot; rather, it's an exploration of several themes by an interesting, introspective character, Nan Wu. Among some of the themes explored are cultural vs. personal identity, self-actualization as the quintessential American Dream, development of individuality vs. sacrifice for family and future generations, and the creative process in a foreign language...as well as the perils of success found by sticking to the familiar. Nan constantly questions his motivations for wanting to be a poet and tries to align the quest for external success with a feeling of personal satisfaction in creative expression of the self. Also of note is the opening up of the poetry publishing industry, its superficiality juxtaposed against its higher purpose. I found the book fascinating, Nan's journey heartening. His personal honesty is quite refreshing and courageous. The book is perhaps one long character development sketch. I loved the poetry journal and poems at the end. Beautiful, simple, softly penetrating.