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My Year Abroad: A Novel
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Penguin Publishing Group 2021
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INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A New York Times Notable Book * Named a Best Book of the Year by Vogue, TIME, and Marie Claire
“A manifesto to happiness—the one found when you stop running from who you are.” –New York Times Book Review
“An extraordinary book, acrobatic on the level of the sentence, symphonic across its many movements—and this is a book that moves…My Year Abroad is a wild ride—a caper, a romance, a bildungsroman, and something of a satire of how to get filthy rich in rising Asia.” – Vogue
From the award-winning author of Native Speaker and On Such a Full Sea, an exuberant, provocative story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure – and about the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection.

 
Tiller is an average American college student with a good heart but minimal aspirations. Pong Lou is a larger-than-life, wildly creative Chinese American entrepreneur who sees something intriguing in Tiller beyond his bored exterior and takes him under his wing. When Pong brings him along on a boisterous trip across Asia, Tiller is catapulted from ordinary young man to talented protégé, and pulled into a series of ever more extreme and eye-opening experiences that transform his view of the world, of Pong, and of himself. 
 
In the breathtaking, “precise, elliptical prose” that Chang-rae Lee is known for (The New York Times), the narrative alternates between Tiller’s outlandish, mind-boggling year with Pong and the strange, riveting, emotionally complex domestic life that follows it, as Tiller processes what happened to him abroad and what it means for his future. Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion—on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs. Tinged at once with humor and darkness, electric with its accumulating surprises and suspense, My Year Abroad is a novel that only Chang-rae Lee could have written, and one that will be read and discussed for years to come.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
02/02/2021
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780698407046
ASIN:
B08HL86V91

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Citations

APA Citation (style guide)

Chang-rae Lee. (2021). My Year Abroad: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Chang-rae Lee. 2021. My Year Abroad: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Chang-rae Lee, My Year Abroad: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2021.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Chang-rae Lee. My Year Abroad: A Novel. Penguin Publishing Group, 2021.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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Date Added:
Jan 29, 2021 16:12:50
Date Updated:
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My Year Abroad
fullDescription
INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A New York Times Notable Book * Named a Best Book of the Year by Vogue, TIME, and Marie Claire
“A manifesto to happiness—the one found when you stop running from who you are.” –New York Times Book Review
“An extraordinary book, acrobatic on the level of the sentence, symphonic across its many movements—and this is a book that moves…My Year Abroad is a wild ride—a caper, a romance, a bildungsroman, and something of a satire of how to get filthy rich in rising Asia.” – Vogue
From the award-winning author of Native Speaker and On Such a Full Sea, an exuberant, provocative story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure – and about the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection.

 
Tiller is an average American college student with a good heart but minimal aspirations. Pong Lou is a larger-than-life, wildly creative Chinese American entrepreneur who sees something intriguing in Tiller beyond his bored exterior and takes him under his wing. When Pong brings him along on a boisterous trip across Asia, Tiller is catapulted from ordinary young man to talented protégé, and pulled into a series of ever more extreme and eye-opening experiences that transform his view of the world, of Pong, and of himself. 
 
In the breathtaking, “precise, elliptical prose” that Chang-rae Lee is known for (The New York Times), the narrative alternates between Tiller’s outlandish, mind-boggling year with Pong and the strange, riveting, emotionally complex domestic life that follows it, as Tiller processes what happened to him abroad and what it means for his future. Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion—on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs. Tinged at once with humor and darkness, electric with its accumulating surprises and suspense, My Year Abroad is a novel that only Chang-rae Lee could have written, and one that will be read and discussed for years to come.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from November 2, 2020
        Lee’s action-packed picaresque (after On Such a Full Sea) chronicles how an ordinary New Jersey college student ended up consorting with international criminals. As the novel opens, Tiller Bardmon is living with 30-something Val and her eight-year-old son, whom he met in the Hong Kong airport after a series of adventures in Macau and Shenzhen. Val and son are both in witness protection after Val cooperated with the U.S. government to bring down her gangster husband. The story of Tiller and Val runs parallel to Tiller’s recollections of the preceding year, when a day of caddying for a colorful foursome earns him an invitation from entrepreneur Pong Lou to join him on a business jaunt to Asia. The trip is not all work, though, as Tiller discovers he can surf, sing, assume difficult yoga positions, and make mad passionate love—but the great adventure turns into a nightmare when Pong abandons Tiller outside Shenzhen. In energetic prose, Lee nests stories within stories, such as the moving tales of a family torn apart by Mao’s Cultural Revolution and an immigrant family that reinvents itself for survival in America. The frenetic roller-coaster ride is impressively structured as the naive and sometimes reckless Tiller learns about trust and betrayal from his dealings with Pong, and gains a more mature understanding of his identity, culture, and values as his bond with Val develops. This literary whirlwind has Lee running on all cylinders. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM Partners.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        December 1, 2020
        A young man becomes embroiled in a health-drink scheme with a man who has more baggage than he lets on. National Book Critics Circle fiction finalist Lee is expert at writing about cross-cultural identity crises, be it through realist assimilation tales (Aloft, 2004), widescreen historical novels (The Surrendered, 2010), or dystopian fables (On Such a Full Sea, 2014). This coming-of-age story is a peculiar blend of the three, with a surrealist touch to boot. The narrator, Tiller, tells a braided tale, the first about his life with Val and her 8-year-old son, Victor Jr., who are in witness protection due to her ex's dealings with Uzbek gangsters; the second about his time just before meeting Val when he became an assistant to Pong, a Chinese American entrepreneur trying to develop jamu, a drink with alleged restorative qualities. On either track, the novel is about the perils of consumption. Victor Jr. has an adult-grade gift for cooking, which makes him the pride of the neighborhood but risks exposing Val; one seriocomic set piece features a paranoid evening of gorging on food, alcohol, and pot with some neighbors. More seriously, Tiller's acquaintance with Pong sends him to Shenzhen, where potential business partners have a threatening vibe. Pong's recollection of his parents' persecution during the Cultural Revolution successfully darkens the mood; even Tiller's sexual relationship with the daughter of an acquaintance of Pong's has a cringeworthy note to it. The novel has an ungainly, baggy feel of having taken on too much; the two threads could be two separate novels. Yet Lee is masterful from passage to passage, and Tiller is a winningly self-interrogating narrator; his relationships with both Pong and Val provoke smart riffs on ethnicity (he's one-eighth Asian), accomplishment, love, and family. A sage study in how readily we're undone by our appetites.

        COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from November 1, 2020
        Tiller jettisons a typical college semester abroad for what morphs into a nightmare year in several circles of hell when he impulsively casts his lot with magnetic and seemingly magnanimous Pong, a Big Pharma chemist and superfoods entrepreneur. Describing himself as 12-1/2 percent Asian, Tiller comes under Chinese American Pong's spell while golf caddying, and is soon accompanying him as an assistant to China. An innocent abroad and a preternaturally observant and energetically and creatively expressive narrator, Tiller finds himself drawing on heretofore hidden talents to survive bizarre, increasingly menacing situations. These are relayed in extended flashbacks, while, in the present, Lee's cleverly named protagonist navigates a precarious life in a witness-protection program with his depressed older lover and her eight-year-old son, a prodigy chef. Culinary passion, yoga, karaoke, alchemy, immortality, sexual enthrallment, oppression, madness, crime, and diabolical cruelty all stoke Tiller's increasingly surreal and gruesome adventures, which play in dissonant counterpoint to his sweetly harmonious philosophical reflections. Profoundly imaginative and thrillingly virtuosic, Lee (On Such a Full Sea, 2014), has created an audaciously satiric, harrowing, witty, and tender variation on the archetypal hero's journey and a fathoms-deep exploration of self, family, culture, and power. As Tiller steers through maelstroms, with forgiveness, kindness, and love as his polestars, he also makes sure, as does his ill-fated mentor Pong, to savor "a quantum of sweetness."HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Lee is supreme, and this high-velocity, shocking, and wise novel, avidly promoted, is emitting an irresistible magnetic force.

        COPYRIGHT(2020) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A New York Times Notable Book * Named a Best Book of the Year by Vogue, TIME, and Marie Claire
“A manifesto to happiness—the one found when you stop running from who you are.” –New York Times Book Review
“An extraordinary book, acrobatic on the level of the sentence, symphonic across its many movements—and this is a book that moves…My Year Abroad is a wild ride—a caper, a romance, a bildungsroman, and something of a satire of how to get filthy rich in rising Asia.” – Vogue
From the award-winning author of Native Speaker and On Such a Full Sea, an exuberant, provocative story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure – and about the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection.

 
Tiller is an average American college student with a good heart but...
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