Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Book Review: Person of Interest

A Person of Interest, Susan Choi
Penguin. 2008

by Eric Green

Ever since Susan Choi wrote the far reaching novel, "A Foreign Student," she has always ventured into areas of writing that few chose to go. In "A Foreign Student" she unveiled the Korean War in ways that no novelist let along foreign policy writer had gone. In her novel form, she demonstrated the lies and half-truths about the Korean War and its aftermath that only true veterans of the war can account for.

Since then she's written a Pulitzer Prize level book, American Woman.

With this book, she takes us through the life of an Asian, probably Chinese national, professor in math at a Midwestern University. Professor Lee is the main character. As you can probably guess, Lee becomes a Person of Interest, in a highly volatile murder investigation.

Choi's book takes into the world of the "Mad Bomber" who existed some years ago; actually, in the time period of this book. Also, Choi brings us into contact with the Asian nuclear scientist who was accused of violation of national security. That person is not directly in the book, but the way in which the FBI and the U.S. society treats foreign born people, especially Asian people regardless of their rank in society, is certainly an aim of Choi.

This is intertwined in a long and arduous, difficult life of a math professor whose life is embroiled in faculty relationships; family difficulties and children. Choi has given us a character that does not receive the sympathy that other writers would. That is another unique and different aspect of her book.

This is not an easy book to read and follow, but well worth the readers struggle. There is more narrative than dialogue and the narrative often moves around quite briskly.

If you're just going to begin to read Choi, I would suggest the "Foreign Student," but immediately after than; "A Person of Interest" should not be missed.