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A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin
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A Map of Betrayal

by Ha Jin

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1822396,486 (3.35)11

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Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
Well-written, slow-moving novel of a Chinese spy working as a CIA translator. Told in alternating POV of Gary Shang, the spy, and his daughter, Lilian Shang, a history professor who has obtained his 6-volume diary, the story relates the agony of Gary Shang's life as he tries to reconcile his love of two countries and his responsibilities to two families.

While it was a heartbreaking story, some of it seemed told in a detached way that robbed the novel of its potential emotional impact. Still, an author worth reading for his overall narrative skills. ( )
  MugsyNoir | Oct 27, 2017 |
I didn't love this as much I hoped. It's an interesting story - daughter (Lillian) researching her father (Weimin/Gary) career in espionage, returning to China to meet family he left behind, getting caught up - to her own detriment - in their lives. Ha Jin writes so brilliantly about people's emotional blind spots - the parts of the novel that are about the toll Gary's choice of career had on the lives of his two families, as well as his own life are so powerful and understated, but then other parts of the novel read like a textbook on American-Sino relations.

I think this is a novel I will enjoy thinking about more than reading. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
3.5 stars

Lilian Shang, the American daughter of the highest-placed Chinese spy ever captured by the FBI decides to search for her father's first wife's family in China. Her late father's long-time mistress provides key knowledge--and his diaries--to her.

In her search, she finds and learns more than she expected, as do the relatives she finds.

A good read, I kept having to remind myself that this is fiction. However, I doubt I will remember this book in a year. ( )
  Dreesie | Apr 12, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
On the whole, I did not enjoy this novel as much as some of Ha Jin's earlier works. Of course, I'm not a big fan of spy novels, so that part of the story fell a bit flat for me. While the characters' journeys to insight are interesting, the dialogue is somewhat stilted, and Jin moralizes a bit too heavy handedly. I might have liked it better in print than on audio. The reader's pacing was slow, and whenever she changed her voice to that of a Chinese-born character, I expected her to start with "Ah, so!" (like they always do in bad 1940s and '50s movies). ( )
  Cariola | Nov 3, 2015 |
Ha Jin author of several outstanding works of fiction that include The Crazed, Waiting, and War Trash has written a compelling tragic novel of Cold War spying. Gary Shang is a much touted and highly effective agent working as a translator for the CIA and sending intelligence back to China. He has a wife and two children he has never seen in rural China and is married to Nellie ( a waitress who eventually becomes the owner of a bakery and coffee shop. Lillian is his daughter from his American family who discovers six volumes of her father's diaries. These revelations take her to China as visiting professor where she discovers family members she had not previously known about. This includes the grandson, Ben, of the China family who is living and working in Boston.

As a professional historian, Lillian sets out to penetrate that depths of her father's tragic life. Chapters are juxtaposed between her endeavors to uncover the "real" story of her father and details of Gary Shang's life and loves that include a still living mistress in Montreal, Suzie.

Did Gary Shang betray China? Did he betray the U.S.? His eventual failed courtroom defense is that his efforts supported both countries and may have averted a war. At one point in the novel it is stated that ". . . he lives in a fog, possessed by an ancient emotion whose validity his reason could not penetrate." Based on geopolitical events of several decades, this is a powerful and well told story of personal identity, family ties and the "fog" of living apart from one's origins. ( )
  Wisconco | Aug 17, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
Gary’s tragedy is that of most moles. He never belongs: not to America or China; not to his wives, mistress or children; not to the Chinese intelligence service or the C.I.A.; and not, in the end, to himself.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, BEN MACINTYRE (Nov 7, 2014)
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307911608, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:06 -0400)

"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"--… (more)

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