Orginal Publication Date
Ethnic Studies Review
In Chang-rae Lee's A Gesture Life, the elderly, wellrespected and fastidious Franklin "Doc" Hata begins an introspective journey toward a revitalized and reimagined identity. For Lee, this journey affords the chance to address ethnicity and immigration under a unique transnational context. The novel chronicles how an identity can be recuperated (i.e., healed) through personal and cultural reconnections to the body and to memory. I purposefully use the word "recuperate" in both the traditional and theoretical senses. "Recuperation" results from Hata's moving back into his past to grow forward in self. Simultaneously, he "heals" his self, physically and psychologically, from various "afflictions" he endures. By exploring Hata's various afflictions against the novel's ways to counteract these ailments, I will show how Lee's novel becomes a narrative of recuperation and identity change.
Copyright ©ESR, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 2009