A Map of Betrayal: A Novel (Vintage International) (Paperback)

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By Ha Jin
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Staff Reviews


E.M. Forster said “If
I have to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I
should have the guts to betray my country.”
 It is a belief that might have helped the
characters in Ha Jin’s latest superb novel. 
The story shifts between Lilian in current day and her father’s life
between 1949 and 1989. Lilian’s mother was Irish American, her father, Gary, a
Chinese spy. His American family never suspected the quiet, responsible family
man working diligently as a translator at the CIA could be a spy.  Gary’s story tells how that came to be, the
struggles of conscience and the loneliness he endured as he lived in an alien
land, both longing for his homeland and being seduced by life in America.   As the story opens Lilian is spending time
in China teaching a course in Beijing, while there she intends to track down
any surviving members of Gary’s Chinese family. 
Finding relatives whose life is vastly different from her own, opens
Lilian to new challenges.   Ha Jin packs
in a lot of history, both US and Chinese, along with an intimate portrait of
the two cultures, and the complexity of the shadow life.

— Deon Stonehouse

E.M. Forster said "If I have to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country." It is a belief that might have helped the characters in Ha Jin’s latest superb novel. The story shifts between Lilian in current day and her father’s life between 1949 and 1989. Lilian’s mother was Irish Ameri-can, her father, Gary, a Chinese spy. His American family never suspected the quiet, responsible family man working diligently as a translator at the CIA could be a spy. Gary’s story tells how that came to be, the struggles of conscience and the loneliness he endured as he lived in an alien land, both longing for his homeland and being seduced by life in America. As the story opens Lilian is spending time in China teaching a course in Beijing, while there she intends to track down any surviving members of Gary’s Chinese family. Finding relatives whose life is vastly different from her own, opens Lilian to new challenges. Ha Jin packs in a lot of history, both US and Chinese, along with an intimate portrait of the two cultures, and the complexity of the shadow life. One of the aspects I admire about Ha Jin’s writing his range: A Free Life is the story of immigrants assimilating in the USA, using a slower pace to give the details of an immigrant life, Map of Betrayal gives a realistic, portrayal of the recruitment and life of a spy, Waiting is a spare, powerful account of life in China, and Nanjing Requiem reveals the evil of an army run amok and the courage of the few willing to stand in their way. These are but a few of Ha Jin’s novels, however they are each very different in style and content.

— Deon Stonehouse

Description


A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year

Lilian Shang, a history professor in Maryland, knew that her father, Gary, had been the most important Chinese spy ever caught in the United States. But when she discovers his diary after the death of her parents, its pages reveal the full pain and longing that his double life entailed—and point to a hidden second family that he’d left behind in China.
        As Lilian follows her father’s trail back into the Chinese provinces, she begins to grasp the extent of her father’s dilemma—torn between loyalty to his motherland and the love he came to feel for his adopted country. As she starts to understand that Gary, too, had been betrayed, she finds that it is up to her to prevent his tragedy from endangering yet another generation of the Shangs. A stunning portrait of a multinational family, an unflinching inquiry into the meaning of patriotism, A Map of Betrayal is a spy novel that only Ha Jin could write.

About the Author


Ha Jin left his native China in 1985 to attend Brandeis University. He is the author of six previous novels, four story collections, three volumes of poetry, and a book of essays. He has received the National Book Award, two PEN/Faulkner Awards, the PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award, the Asian American Literary Award, and the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. In 2014 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Ha Jin lives in the Boston area and is a professor of English at Boston University.

Praise For…


“Powerful. . . . A heartbreaking portrait of a spy torn between two countries.”  —The Christian Science Monitor

“A startling thriller. . . . A moving family saga. . . . A subtle page-turner. . . . Expertly chronicles the fraught relationship between the U.S. and modern China with plainspoken clarity.” —Entertainment Weekly 

“Deftly explores the parallels between an immigrant’s experience and an informant’s—the ambivalence, the delusion, the sense of warring loyalties.” —The New Yorker

“Ha Jin’s writing has a serene simplicity. . . . It is comforting as a reader to be in the hands of such a masterful storyteller.” —The Seattle Times

“A poignant novel that portrays the emotional drama of an immigrant torn apart by conflicting loyalties and ‘bone-deep loneliness’. . . . [Gary] may be a traitor and a superspy, but his tragedy is relatable. . . . It should strike many close to home.” —Los Angeles Times

 “Ha Jin has captured the painful, often humdrum essence of the hidden agent. . . . We see America through the eyes of a Chinese émigré, torn between an old loyalty and growing affection for the adopted land he is betraying.” —The New York Times Book Review

“One of the great triumphs of A Map of Betrayal is how it uncovers and underscores the similarities between the domestic and the political, the family and the larger culture. . . . Lilian strives not to judge but to understand. She searches for a capacious, forgiving, and subtle interpretation of a struggling soul.” —The Boston Globe

“With one foot in China and the other in the United States, Ha Jin is the quintessential Chinese-American writer. . . . In his absorbing new book, A Map of Betrayal, the author offers his most searing portrait yet of divided loyalties.” —Chicago Tribune

“The book stands out for the way it straddles a number of worlds—China and the U.S., family life and adultery—and in Shang's case, the torturous inner life of a man torn between loyalty to two nations.” —NPR

“Beneath the quiet poetry of Ha Jin’s sentences is a searing novelistic ambition.” —The Millions

“Beautifully written. . . . Brilliant fiction, a story of shifting personal loyalties across broad swaths of territory, that can only be done by one with a deep knowledge of two cultures: in [Jin’s] case, China and America.” —Buffalo News

“A quietly humane, painstakingly detailed portrait of an idealistic man who tries to set himself morally apart. Ever present in this dense, compelling tale are provocative questions about the nature of patriotism: When do you betray your country? When does your country betray you?” —Shelf Awareness

“Gripping. . . . Poignant. . . . A haunting tale of two families and two countries that are linked together by the life of a single spy. . . . The novel closes with a delicate, ironic twist that one associates with the best of Jin’s fiction.” —BookPage

“A chillingly matter-of-fact tale of espionage and treachery. . . . Ha Jin offers startlingly redefining views of the strategic evolution of U.S.-Chinese relations. . . . A sharply ironic, stealthily devastating tale of the tragic cost of ‘blind’ patriotism, told by a master of clarifying fiction, uniting the personal and the geopolitical.” —Booklist (starred)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780804170369
ISBN-10: 0804170363
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: July 7th, 2015
Pages: 304
Language: English
Series: Vintage International