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Extended Audio Sample The Surrendered Audiobook, by Chang-Rae Lee Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,300 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Chang-Rae Lee Narrator: James Yaegashi Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2010 ISBN: 9781449808693
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June Han was only a girl when the Korean War left her orphaned; Hector Brennan was a young GI who fled the petty tragedies of his small town to serve his country. When the war ended, their lives collided at a Korean orphanage where they vied for the attentions of Sylvie Tanner, the beautiful yet deeply damaged missionary wife whose elusive love seemed to transform everything. Thirty years later and on the other side of the world, June and Hector are reunited in a plot that will force them to come to terms with the mysterious secrets of their past, and the shocking acts of love and violence that bind them together.

As Lee unfurls the stunning story of June, Hector, and Sylvie, he weaves a profound meditation on the nature of heroism and sacrifice, the power of love, and the possibilities for mercy, salvation, and surrendering oneself to another.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[The Surrendered] is epic in scope, masterful in execution, heart stopping at times, and heartbreaking at others. The meticulous narrative unfolds over 52 years and across three continents. Nothing is rushed; nothing is overlooked.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A landmark novel about love and war…Chang-rae Lee’s The Surrendered…is impossible to put down.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “This is not a happy book, but it is a rewarding one. The Surrendered grabs your attention—sometimes terrifying you in the process—and doesn’t let go until its final moment…Breathtakingly alive.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Extremely well written, powerfully moving in places.”

    New Yorker

  • “Lee’s masterful fourth novel bursts with drama and human anguish as it documents the ravages and indelible effects of war…Powerful, deeply felt, compulsively readable, and imbued with moral gravity, the novel does not peter out into easy redemption. It’s a harrowing tale: bleak, haunting, often heartbreaking—and not to be missed.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • A 2010 Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book for Fiction
  • Selected for the March 2010 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2010 ALA Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Fiction
  • A 2010 Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Fiction
  • One of the 2010 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kellie | 2/16/2014

    " The opening chapter is perhaps the most affecting I have ever read. It literally gave me nightmares that pulled me out of bed in the middle of the night to kiss my daughters. It was one of those books that, while you are reading it, seems more vivid than your real life. Lee has a beautiful literary voice and the main character, June, is one of the most unforgettable and real fictional characters of all time (think Briony from Atonement). We meet June when she is an 11-year-old old orphan/refugee during the Korean War, where she is broken by the events that occur there and finds it difficult, for her entire life, to move out of survival mode. The defining event for a second main character, Hector, an American soldier fighting in the war, feels equally real for all its brutality. What keeps this from a five star though is the cumulation of the many tragedies that befall the three primary characters. By the middle of the book, it starts to feel gratuitous. Still, I highly recommend this one. You certainly won't soon forget it, and I felt like I gained real insight into the minds of people who live through the worst of war. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peter Gallo | 2/14/2014

    " Without giving anything away, the central male character is more thoroughly developed than the female. There is an an enormous gap in her history that compromises her development. It seems, a times, a incomplete conflation of two stories. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Paula Margulies | 2/12/2014

    " Sadly, I put this book down half-way through. There were too many characters with stories interspersed in a random, almost clumsy fashion. Each story was darker than the last, making this a difficult read. Sorry to those who loved it; it just wasn't for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dara Salley | 1/27/2014

    " This book was wonderful. I found every character engaging and sympathetic. There were several times that I could not put it down despite the fact that it was several hours past my bedtime. The most difficult thing about the book was the violence. There were many scenes that were incredibly disturbing. If you can stomach those scenes however, they payoff is an amazing story. What I liked most about the book is that there were no happy endings or morals. In a book about the destruction of war a happy ending would be cheap. Lee is able to confront painful subjects with directness and honesty. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mimy | 1/26/2014

    " A very disturbing book but fascinating read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jen Downing | 12/7/2013

    " I'm still struggling to come to terms with my thoughts on this book. It's not something I would normally pick up and at first, I found it too gruesome and violent for my tastes. Lee's writing is absolutely breathtaking and, even during the most graphic parts there is a certain beauty in the way that he describes things that kept me hanging on for more. I didn't connect with or root for any of the characters- they were all selfish and awful people but, given their circumstances, I'm not sure they could have helped it. I enjoyed the multiple narrators and the way the story bounced from past to present. All in all, it made for a wonderful book discussion but I'm just not quite sure I'd recommend it to someone unless they were looking for a beautifully written, very depressing read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danielle | 11/30/2013

    " After surviving horrific experiences during wartime (the Sino-Japanese war and the Korean War), the three main characters of this book are so damaged that they can only see their endurance as a punishment. They believe they are insignificant in contrast to the total amount of lives ruined or lost in each conflict. A book that plays a large role in the bonding of these characters, in which a terrible battle from an earlier century is detailed, illustrates this sentiment. They recognize the savageness of war and randomness of the victims in that story, but don't dare believe that their own experiences would ever merit such a memorial. But as a family member says earlier in the beginning of The Surrendered, "We don't read stories to live by, but to change". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marilee | 11/28/2013

    " Very sad, but very good. I would like to read his other novels. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yumi | 11/15/2013

    " this is a story about an orphan, a missionary, and a soldior whose lives are permanently and fundamentally altered by war. the characters are rich and intricate, but what i love most about this book is the writing itself which meanders beautifully and intelligently. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gary Davison | 10/15/2013

    " The blurb said, read page 29. I did Ive got to say I'm pleased I did. So far so good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon | 10/15/2013

    " Fabulously well-written "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennyreadsexcessively | 10/11/2013

    " Korean War, story of 3 characters whose lives intersect at orphanage, very very grim, loved parts of story but later on veered into staginess and melodrama "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sally | 8/6/2013

    " It is a well written book, taking place during and after Korean War. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne Kadet | 6/8/2013

    " Unhappy people doing unhappy things. And then they die. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emari Traffie | 11/12/2012

    " Incredible tale. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Samantha | 7/11/2012

    " Horribly depressing. But worth it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karrie | 4/15/2012

    " Beautiful, very descriptive and emotional writing, I really loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Louis | 4/4/2012

    " A great read. Though dense, it takes you on for a good - but heart-breaking ride. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mindy | 10/16/2011

    " As with other books by this author, The Surrendered is very well written. That is where similarities stop. The book is based in Korea during the War and is very graphic. The characters are interesting and very damaged. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vanessa | 8/19/2011

    " Gripping, operatic, stunning depictions of violence. Haunting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jin | 8/8/2011

    " It was okay. A fast read and good prose but I didn't think there was much there -- nothing really beautiful or new or that made me think things in a new way. Characters were frustrating and not likable and ultimately not very interesting. Not close to as good as Native Speaker or Aloft. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Evelyn | 6/29/2011

    " I loved this book! It was extremely well-written and compelling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mimy | 6/27/2011

    " A very disturbing book but fascinating read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tomi-Ann | 6/26/2011

    " I love everything Chang Rae Lee writes, and this one was no exception. A sweeping, aching tale of war and orphans and misplaced love and illness. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Falice | 6/20/2011

    " The first part of the book is one of the best I've read of any war stories. The rest pales in comparison but is still manages to offer deep insight into the effects of war and displacement. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shannon | 6/17/2011

    " Beautifully told, but didn't seem to go anywhere in the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Louisa | 6/9/2011

    " Loved this book, it was really good, quite enjoyed it, if it was a bit sad. Oh, well :) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bettina | 6/1/2011

    " Mixed feeling about this story. Compelling plot, descriptive language, characters that run deep. I found myself confused as storylines changed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nathan | 5/31/2011

    " Rough stuff in this story. I enjoy Lee's writing... it's vibrant. However, since this story dealt with some of the atrocities of the Korean War (and the messiness of people impacted by the war), this vibrancy made for some pretty horrific images. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Michael | 5/28/2011

    " This book was at once boring and overly graphic. I'm surprised I finished it.
    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelley | 5/27/2011

    " Sad but intriguing story of lives that crossed during the Korean War. I enjoyed it, even though it was painful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maureen | 5/18/2011

    " Love, love, love this book. Could not put it down. I got so involved with the characters. It is a war story but more about the effects of war on the lives of people for decades. The end gets a little tedious but still a great read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 5/17/2011

    " The beginning was a extremely gripping if not a bit disturbing. You just knew the body of the novel would be as captivating. Lee does not disappoint. When I wasn't reading the book, I was looking forward to reading it. "

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About the Author
Author Chang-Rae Lee

Chang-rae Lee is the author of Native Speaker, a Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award winner for first fiction, A Gesture Life, and Aloft. Selected by the New Yorker as one of the twenty best writers under forty, he teaches writing at Princeton.

About the Narrator

James Yaegashi has appeared in numerous Broadway and off-Broadway productions, film, and television roles. He was also a popular radio disc jockey in Japan. His voice-over credits include a featured role in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.