My Year Abroad: A Novel

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Chang-rae Lee on Writing and Re-writing the Immigrant Novel


For Powells, Chang-rae Lee discusses his picaresque novel, My Year Abroad, with Rhianna Walton, and how he finds himself drawn to characters that are outside of the mainstream. “It’s so hard, especially with characters like Pong,” he says. “He’s not a mainstream character that people know about. This has always been my frustration and challenge. Actually, it’s shaped me as a writer, to try to give enough context for things I just assume people will not understand, or appreciate fully, without me giving extra context. But every book I write is, I think, in some ways an immigrant novel, because it’s always about being in places and situations where you find yourself unsettled or unmoored. At the most basic level, My Year Abroad is that.”

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