- Native Speaker
Native Speaker Author(s) Chang-Rae Lee Country United States Language English Genre(s) Novel Publisher Berkley Books Publication date 1995 Media type Print (Paperback) Pages 368 pp (first edition, paperback) ISBN 978-1573225311 OCLC Number 38863471
Native Speaker (1995) is Chang-Rae Lee’s first novel. In Native Speaker, he creates a man named Henry Park who tries to assimilate into American society and become a “native speaker.”
Henry is the quintessential Korean-American, yet much of his Korean heritage resonates through his voice, personality, and beliefs. His Korean upbringing still shows up in his adult life. Like many American immigrants trying to find an identity in a foreign land, Henry is an “…emotional alien…stranger [and] follower…” who constantly feels isolated from the country in which he lives and also the country from which he came. Even though he is almost completely Americanized, Henry Park has trouble adapting to the U.S. There are many challenges that come with fitting in to American life because of the difference in culture, beliefs, behavior; and because of the desire to still hold on to one’s heritage.
- Henry Park: An industrial spy who is assigned to be on John Kwang's pre-campaign team. His Korean name is Byong-ho.
- Lelia Park: Henry's estranged wife who is a speech therapist from a wealthy, Scottish-American East Coast family. She met Henry at a party during one of his initial assignments.
- Mitt Park : Henry and Lelia's son who died at the age of seven.
- John Kwang: A Korean-American politician running for Mayor of New York who becomes a surrogate father to Henry.
- Emile Luzan: A Filipino-American therapist whom Henry spied on but ended up befriending. He helped Henry recover from Mitt's death.
- Sherrie Chin-Watt: A Chinese-American doctor who married an American man and is having an affair with John Kwang.
- Mr Park: Henry's father, a strict man who was once an electric engineer in Korea.
- Mrs Park: Henry's mother who died from cancer when Henry was ten.
- Dennis Hoagland: Henry's boss.
- Maid(Ahjumah): A young Korean woman who took care of Henry as a child.
- May: John's wife whom he met when she came from Korea.
- Sophie: Jack's Italian-American wife.
- Jack: Henry's best friend and coworker who is a Greek-American.
- Janice Pawlowsky: Henry's manager of John Kwang.
- Eduardo Fermin: A Latino man who idolizes John Kwang. He dies during a fire at Kwang's campaign headquarters. He's also a spy for mayor De La Roos's reelection campaign.
- Pete Ichibata: A Japanese co-worker known for crude jokes and excessive drinking.
- John Kwang Jr: John's and May's son and Peter's brother whom Herny reminded him as Mitt who troblued with school
- Peter Kwang: John Jr's brother and Son of John and May
- Leila's parents: Henry's in laws and Mitt's grandparents
Awards and nominations
- PEN/Hemingway Award for first best novel.
- Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award
- American Book Award
- QPB New Visions Award
- Oregon Book Award
- ALA Notable Book
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