Chang-rae Lee, author of 'Native Speaker', has been added to the high-profile stable of writers at Princeton University's faculty, joining the ranks of Toni Morrison and Joyce Carol Oates.
Lee immigrated to the United States from Korea when he was 3 years old, and, not surprisingly, his writing explores the themes of identity, belonging and assimilation. His debut novel, "Native Speaker", tells the story of a Korean-American outsider who is involved with espionage. The book won the Ernest Hemingway Foundation/ PEN Award and the American Book Award.
His most recent book, "A Gesture Life" won the Anisfeld-Wolf Prize in Fiction, the Asian-American Literary Award for Fiction and the Myers Outstanding Book Award. The book spins a narrative of an elderly medic who remembers treating Korean "comfort women" during World War II.
Professor Alexander Nehamas at Princeton described Lee as "one of the most prominent and promising Asian-American authors of this generation."
"Lee adds a new dimension to our outstanding program in creative writing," Nehamas said. "His appointment, which has the strong support of the Department of East Asian Studies as well, is an indication of the University's continuing effort to expand our offerings in the creative arts and address the interests of the broadest possible range of our students and faculty."
Joyce Carol Oates described Lee as "one of the most talented and promising writers of his generation."
Lee is currently a professor of English and director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Hunter College of the City University of New York. Lee joined Hunter College in 1998 after spending five years as a faculty member at the University of Oregon, where he received his master of fine arts degree in creative writing. He earned his bachelor's degree in English from Yale University in 1987.
"I'm immensely pleased and excited to be joining the Princeton creative writing faculty," Lee said. "I could not ask for a more exemplary group than my new colleagues on the Humanities Council, whose extraordinary literary achievements I've long admired and continue to be inspired by. It's an electric artistic milieu, one in which I'm eager to begin writing and teaching."
In addition to his novels, Lee has published essays and stories in publications ranging from The New Yorker and The New York Times to Gourmet. His writings have also been collected in numerous anthologies. The New Yorker magazine named Lee one of the 20 best American writers under 40.