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On Such a Full Sea takes Chang-rae Lee's elegance of prose, his masterly storytelling, and his long-standing interests in identity, culture, work, and love, and lifts them to a new plane. Stepping from the realistic and historical territories of his previous work, Lee brings us into a world created from scratch. Against a vividly imagined future America, Lee tells a stunning, surprising, and riveting story that will change the way listeners think about the world they live in.
In a future, long-declining America, society is strictly stratified by class. Long-abandoned urban neighborhoods have been repurposed as highwalled, self-contained labor colonies. And the members of the labor class - descendants of those brought over en masse many years earlier from environmentally ruined provincial China - find purpose and identity in their work to provide pristine produce and fish to the small, elite, satellite charter villages that ring the labor settlement.
In this world lives Fan, a female fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore), when the man she loves mysteriously disappears. Fan's journey to find him takes her out of the safety of B-Mor, through the anarchic Open Counties, where crime is rampant with scant governmental oversight, and to a faraway charter village, in a quest that will soon become legend to those she left behind.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Dr. on 01-26-14
Inventive, Engaging, & Surprising
Lee has created a new world where charter villages, facilities, and counties people try to cope with a post apocalyptic world that has forced them to adapt and to find meaning. Each of these different groups must also struggle to survive (easily if you are a charter person, with a lot of hard work if you live in a facility, and with great difficulty if you live in the counties).
Lee's story follows the life of Fan, a young woman who lives in a facility, BMore (formerly Baltimore). Due to events that are never totally clear, she leaves home and travels through the counties and eventually a charter village. Very engaging and repeatedly surprising - right up to the end- Fan - and the reader - are confronted by the struggle to survive, life and death decisions of who to trust, and the existential need to define a sense of purpose and meaning in life.
I highly recommend this very original work. I was never bored and I always looked forward to listening. Although it is never clear who the narrator is and there is very little first person dialog, I hope Lee will follow up with more work that explores what it means to be fully human while facing an uncertain future.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Molly on 02-07-14
I really wanted to like it
I wish I could have given this novel a better review, but for me, it didn't live up to it's promise. I found it wordy to the point of tedium and then the ending didn't really pay off- It felt tacked on.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful