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The Collective: A Novel Hardcover – July 16, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (July 16, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393083217
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393083217
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,099,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Lee comes with an agenda -- an important one -- about ethnicity and art, but he also delivers a heartbreaking, sexy, and frequently funny story about fractured friendships. EW's Grade: A-  --Stephan Lee, Entertainment Weekly

Offering strong characterizations and thought-provoking prose, Lee addresses the Asian American experience from various vantage points...His novel has enough depth to spark uninhibited discussion in any book group and, given its time frame, will have special meaning for Gen X readers. --Shirley N. Quan, Library Journal

Lee smashes Asian stereotypes to pieces to present a provocative look at what it truly means to have one's identity tied to not just oneself but also an entire race. -- Carolyn Kubisz, Booklist

"The Collective" brilliantly sorts through issues of friendship, intimacy, idealism, art...Don Lee is a phenomenal writer that you absolutely should know, and "The Collective" is a book you absolutely should read. Get two pages in and you'll know I'm right. --Rachel Meier, Christian Science Monitor

A hilarious and winning story...this book's plangent, and also celebratory undercurrent, flows on, whispering to the reader that the other collective it speaks of -- friendship in youth -- is equally unstable, and prone to collapse. The best parts of this keenly felt novel will remind you why. --John Freeman, The Boston Globe

“Lee comes with an agenda—an important one—about ethnicity and art, but he also delivers a heartbreaking, sexy, and frequently funny story about fractured friendships.” (Stephan Lee - Entertainment Weekly)

“Offering strong characterizations and thought-provoking prose, Lee addresses the Asian American experience from various vantage points, realistically examining themes ranging from personal relationships to racism and artistic censorship. His novel has enough depth to spark uninhibited discussion in any book group and given its time frame, will have special meaning for Gen X readers.” (Library Journal)

“It is a hilarious and winning story, smoothly told...” (John Freeman - Boston Globe)

About the Author

Don Lee is also the author of the novels Wrack and Ruin and Country of Origin and the story collection Yellow. He has received an American Book Award, the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, an O. Henry Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Fred R. Brown Literary Award. His stories have appeared in The Kenyon Review, GQ, The Southern Review, American Short Fiction, The Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere. He is currently the director of the MFA program in creative writing at Temple University.

More About the Author

Don Lee is the author most recently of the novel The Collective. He is also the author of the novel Wrack and Ruin, which was a finalist for the Thurber Prize; the novel Country of Origin, which won an American Book Award, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and a Mixed Media Watch Image Award for Outstanding Fiction; and the story collection Yellow, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Members Choice Award from the Asian American Writers' Workshop.

He has received an O. Henry Award and a Pushcart Prize, and his stories have been published in The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, GQ, The North American Review, The Gettysburg Review, Manoa, American Short Fiction, Glimmer Train, Charlie Chan Is Dead 2, Screaming Monkeys, Narrative, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the St. Botolph Club Foundation, and residencies from Yaddo and the Lannan Foundation. In 2007, he received the inaugural Fred R. Brown Literary Award for emerging novelists from the University of Pittsburgh's creative writing program.

From 1988 to 2007, he was the principal editor of the literary journal Ploughshares. He is currently a professor in Temple University's M.F.A. program in creative writing in Philadelphia. He is a third-generation Korean American.

www.don-lee.com

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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It's a good book, interesting.
pl
So if you want to read something of substance that will also keep you up at night with anticipation, buy this book.
Yooj
Outstanding story, amazingly dimensional and flawed characters, and depth.
Buzz Fledderjohn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Don Lee is a very talented writer and there is much to commend this book. I really liked his previous book, Wrack and Ruin: A Novel, maybe in part because I identified with the middle-aged men in that piece. Here his focus, for most of the book, is on young people in college and during the early days of their post-graduate lives. He portrays them with all the standard idealistic views and grandiose hopes people of that age have of taking the world by storm.

Eric Cho, a Korean American from California, is the focal character of the book. He's an aspiring writer who befriends 2 fellow Asian students at the mostly white Macalaster College in Minnesota. One, Joshua, is another aspiring writer, the other, Jessica, is an artist, rebelling against her parents' wishes that she become a doctor. There are a lot of good observations here about the desire to make a difference in the world and good examination of the issues of racial identity and whether or not an ethnic artist has an obligation to explore themes reflecting his identity or if he or she should be free to examine any topic they wish and assume the persona of any race. But after a very provocative opening, in which Eric, in his mid-thirties, reflects on Joshua's suicide at the same age, the middle of the novel bogged down a little bit for me for a couple reasons.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By BobbyMaler on August 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an Asian American artist, this is my "Catcher in the Rye". I think this novel is as important as Ellison's "Invisible Man" and will become a modern classic. Beautiful, crisp prose. Fascinating, flawed characters drawn with such honesty that you will recognize yourself in them. The character of Joshua Yoon is one of the most interesting Asian characters in literature, larger than life, fearless, with a seering intellect, glowing as brightly as a star but also selfish, misanthropic, combative and ultimately, suicidal. This coming of age novel has enough emotional power and unpredictable plot points to keep you turning the page--it will make you think of your own journey in life, your friends and lovers through the years, --but it also has an intellectual heft to it, debating ideas of identity and representation, of art and race at this particular moment in history from the Asian perspective, a perspective that has largely been left out of the racial discourse. This is one of those rare books that I know I will return to again and again in my life. A must read for everyone, but particularly for Americans of Asian descent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vic on November 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There are some very good 4* and 5* reviews that make for a good analysis. I'm not going to try to duplicate them.

I enjoyed the book when I read it - yes, it drags a little in the middle, and had it not I would have given it a 5* rating - but for me the book got even better after I finished it and thought about some its themes.

One of the author's themes relates to the picture on the cover. It is a collection of writing and drawing instruments bound together by a rubber band, but the writing instruments are all different and not at all alike - an engineering pencil, a few ball point pens, a broken lead pencil. These represent the characters in the book - a number of writers and one graphic artist, bound together in a collective because they are Asian, but not of the same Asian ethnicity. Some of the writing instruments are sharp while others are dull or broken. Again, this represents the range of talents in the collective and the emotional state of mind of some of the characters. The author does a good job playing the different characters together and having them intersect in realistic ways. You may decide that some of the characters are actually caricatures because they are so extreme and so blind. But this does not diminish the book in any way.

Another theme the author explores is self-identification. The author is Asian and presents the self-identification issue through Asian eyes; however, the self-identification issue doesn't necessarily need to be Asian. It could be another group - say European-Americans with different cultures and religions. The author presents several viewpoints, many of them contradictory, expressed by the characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chick Pea on September 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I had read Don Lee's Yellow awhile back so I was already familiar with his talent. I love this book even more, and recommended The Collective to friends who also loved the book. One friend told me this book helped him understand more clearly what it means to be Asian American. Bold. Provocative. Complicated protagonist, yet so relatable. Excellent writing. It's the kind of writing that makes you want for more.
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