A Map of Betrayal
By Ha Jin
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780307911605, 304pp.)
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
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From the award-winning author of Waiting: a spare, haunting tale of espionage and conflicted loyalties that spans half a century in the entwined histories of two countries—China and the United States—and two families as it explores the complicated terrain of love and honor.
When Lilian Shang, born and raised in America, discovers her father’s diary after the death of her parents, she is shocked by the secrets it contains. She knew that her father, Gary, convicted decades ago of being a mole in the CIA, was the most important Chinese spy ever caught. But his diary—an astonishing chronicle of his journey from 1949 Shanghai to Okinawa to Langley, Virginia—reveals the pain and longing that his double life entailed. The trail leads Lilian to China, to her father’s long-abandoned other family, whose existence she and her Irish American mother never suspected. As Lilian begins to fathom her father’s dilemma—torn between loyalty to his motherland and the love he came to feel for his adopted country—she sees how his sense of duty distorted his life. But as she starts to understand that Gary, too, had been betrayed, she finds that it is up to her to prevent his tragedy from damaging yet another generation of her family.
HA JIN is the author of six novels, including Waiting (winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the National Book Award), and War Trash (PEN/Faulkner Award); four story collections, including Under the Red Flag (Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction), and Ocean of Words (PEN/Hemingway Award); an essay collection; a novella; and three books of poetry. In 2014 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
“As a novel of espionage, the latest from the prize-winning author satisfies like the best of John le Carré, similarly demystifying and deglamorizing the process of gathering information and the ambiguous morality that operates in shades of gray. . . [T]he issues of love and loyalty that permeate the novel aren't merely political, but deeply personal. . . . Subtle, masterful and bittersweet storytelling that operates on a number of different levels.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)