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The Collective: A Novel Hardcover – July 16, 2012
The Daughter of Union County
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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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Don Lee's "The Collective" starts out rather auspiciously with the suicide of Joshua Yoon & asking the question of why people choose to end their own life. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Paul L.
I think this one (and the other books by Don Lee) will remain for the ages - like Toshio Mori's stories.Published on April 5, 2014 by DonQ
I liked this book. I related to a lot of it. I am second generation Filipino American, Gen X, middle class, artist, went to a small liberal arts college, grew up in California... Read morePublished on January 6, 2014 by JTA
Lee is a very good writer. I made it through to the last 75 pages and then had enough - skimmed the end. The slang and culture references don't ring true to me. Read morePublished on November 2, 2013 by Daniel Holland
Despite not being an Asian American, The Collective spoke to me in a way that no book has before. It discusses interesting issues without ever feeling preachy, and presents... Read morePublished on July 3, 2013 by Mahalie
This book is fantastic. I've read it twice so far, once to find out what happens and the second time around to appreciate the beauty of it. Read morePublished on June 26, 2013 by Curious_J
Thank you! It arrived on time and I look forward to reading this book; since I haven't read it yet, I don't have any more to say...Published on March 13, 2013 by Jacqueline Suzuki
It's a good book, interesting. After I finished it, my son was looking for a book like this to read, so I gave it to him.Published on February 21, 2013 by pl
I enjoyed this novel a lot, the whole development of it all, and the prose.
However, there are 2 things I have issues with: the very flawed main characters, and the... Read more