A Person of Interest
By Susan Choi
(Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670018468, 368pp.)
Publication Date: January 31, 2008
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From an acclaimed novelist, an emotionally complex and riveting story of suspicion, innocence, and regret
When a mail bomb explodes in the campus office next door, Lee, an Asian American math professor at a second-tier university in the Midwest, comes under suspicion. The authorities believe he may be the infamous "brain bomber," an elusive terrorist whose primary targets are prominent scientists and mathematicians.
In the midst of campus tumult and grief over the star computer scientist who was killed by the bomb, Lee receives a disturbing letter from a figure in his past. Certain he is being targeted for revenge, he begins confronting key events in his life. Misunderstood by the people around him, Lee is not conscious that his behavior has begun to heighten suspicion in the minds of his colleagues, students, and neighbors, leading the FBI to designate him "a person of interest" and pushing his life and reputation to the verge of ruin.
Intricately plotted and engrossing, A Person of Interest asks how far one man can run from his past, and explores the impact of scrutiny and suspicion in an age of terror. With its propulsive drive and vividly realized characters, Susan Choi's latest novel is as thrilling as it is lyrical, and confirms her place as one of the most important young novelists chronicling the American experience.
The daughter of a Korean father and a Russian-Jewish mother, Susan Choi was born in Indiana and raised in Texas. She holds an undergraduate degree from Yale and an M.F.A. from Cornell. She is the author of three novels: The Foreign Student, winner of the Asian-American Literary Award; American Woman, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and A Person of Interest. She teaches at Princeton and lives in Brooklyn.
1. In their minds, Lee's neighbors and coworkers convict him of Hendley's murder because they find his reaction to the bombing inappropriate. What explains the willingness of the community to equate social obtuseness with criminal guilt?