Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


A Gesture Life

Posted on

A Gesture Life

Current Status:
In Season
Chang-rae Lee

We gave it a B

In his small New York town, Doc Hata is known for his consideration, his manners, and his beautiful house (and, though it is never overtly stated, for being Japanese). When his estranged adopted daughter returns to a nearby town with her son, Hata’s desire to untangle their relationship leads him to examine his own past, chiefly his stint as a medic in a Japanese battalion during World War II. There he was in charge of the ”comfort women” brought to the camp, one of whom he loved and lost in a notably brutal fashion. Only when he confronts this loss can he understand the effect it had on his daughter. The final epiphany, when it comes, is tiny, but in a book marked by its calm and controlled prose — sometimes, it should be said, too calm and controlled — it resonates like a cannon blast. B