Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Qty:1
  • List Price: $13.95
  • Save: $3.19 (23%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
Only 2 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Country of Origin: A Nove... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Solid used copy with visible wear.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Country of Origin: A Novel Paperback – April 17, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$10.76
$3.26 $0.01

Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
$10.76 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Country of Origin: A Novel
  • +
  • Yellow: Stories
Total price: $21.50
Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ploughshares editor Lee uses the racial homogeneity of Japan as a stark backdrop to this elegant first novel, a follow-up to his story collection, Yellow. Set in Tokyo in 1980, the book centers on the disappearance of Lisa Countryman, a half-Japanese, half-black Berkeley graduate student who goes to Japan to research the "sad, brutal reign of conformity" for her dissertation and, perhaps more importantly, embark on an identity quest. Her mixed-race background gives her an exotic beauty, and after a teaching job falls through, it lands her a job as a hostess girl at a Tokyo men's club. Echoes of Countryman's identity crisis ring through the lives of all the characters affected by her disappearance. When she vanishes, it is first brought to the attention of Tom Hurley, a vain and careless junior diplomat at the U.S. Embassy who tells people he's Hawaiian, though he's really half-Korean and half-white. The case is turned over to Kenzo Ota, a glum, divorced police inspector, who spent three hard years of his adolescence in Missouri. Convinced that Countryman's case could be just what he needs to put his career back on track, Ota resolves to find out what happened to her. The story of Countryman's time in Japan and her efforts to learn who she is unfolds parallel to Ota's efforts to learn her fate. Through the interlocking stories of Ota, Countryman and Hurley, Lee discourses on race, identity, the Japanese sex trade, social conventions and law. Sharply observed, at turns trenchantly funny and heartbreakingly sad, this novel could be the breakout book for Lee.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* It's 1980, a hard-fought election year in which the Iranian hostage crisis plays an increasingly critical role. But that intrigue exists a world away from Foreign Service junior officer Tom Hurley, a cipher hiding a cowardly episode of treachery in his past. He's coasting through a dull-but-cushy appointment to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo and targeting a CIA operative's wife for a bit of dangerous fun. She blipped onto Hurley's radar screen by asking him about the seemingly routine case of Lisa Countryman, a U.S. tourist who disappeared after ditching an under-the-table job at a fly-by-night English language school. The ensuing investigation takes Hurley and clueless police detective Kenzo Ota into Tokyo's seediest corners. It also forces both men to confront their many human failings, and possibly even overcome them. Issues of race, class, and national identity drive this clear-eyed story of closure, redemption, and carving out a place in the world. Lee expertly weaves a tiny new pleasure into every page, from fascinating forays into Japanese culture to wry lines in the vein of "People don't have affairs to get out of their marriages. They have them to prolong them." As satisfying as it is unsettling, this quiet literary triumph eschews plot pyrotechnics for fully realized, deeply felt characters who bumble and struggle their way toward grace much like the rest of us. Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (April 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039332706X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393327069
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,731,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donal Heffernan on October 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
COUNTRY OF ORIGIIN was a great read: a beautifully written story with considerable color of place and intriguing tension turns. I'm assigning it for my fiction writing class, it's that good. A rare find: one of those packages you get from Amazon.com that offer you a stimulating week--no stop reading once I started.
Comment 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I thought this was a great read, though not quite worth five stars. A reviewer below describes the writing style as poor, but I disagree--I think Lee writes very well, very efficiently, without getting in the way of a story that kept me interested at all times. Having read his earlier story collection, Yellow, which is full of surprising characters and situations (and just as well written), I was somewhat taken aback here by the familiar "mystery" storyline. The plot felt a little mechanical, but for the most part, the mystery did keep me going, and the bringing-together of many disparate characters near the end was smooth and convincing.

I also thought most of the characters were fascinating people. The bumbling Japanese detective was especially compelling, a combination of TV's Columbo and Monk whose essential honesty and humanity wins out in the end. The identity issues, and the success some characters have at escaping their former identities and growing into more appropriate or comfortable ones, were also convincing, even inspiring. A reviewer below finds the setting confusing--why 1980 instead of now? Well for one thing, the Iranian hostage crisis was dragging on and on at that time. The idea of a "hostage" symbolizes the identity struggles of many of the characters.

The many details about Tokyo are also fascinating, though at times the piling up of "quirky Japan" examples ("weird" sex bars and love hotels, fetishistic Japanese men, bizzare TV shows, etc.) got to be a bit much. Those able to direct the Western gaze toward Japan should give it credit for more than its "weirdness," which people in the West already tend to know about. Fortunately, the multidimensional Japanese characters offered by Lee balance out those times where he pauses for yet another cultural oddity.
Read more ›
Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This novel works on all levels-as a mystery, as a literary novel, and as a sharp examination of late-20th-century Japan. Don Lee has written a terrific, engrossing story which will be enjoyed by anyone who loves a good book.
In 1980, graduate student Lisa Countryman goes to Japan to work on her doctoral thesis. She's half Japanese, half-black, a Berkeley grad who hopes to learn more about her own background through her research. This path turns risky, and at the opening of the novel, Lisa has already disappeared.
The US Embassy official assigned to Lisa's case is on shaky ground himself. Tom Hurley is on his own risky path, hiding his own mixed heritage as he pursues an affair with the wife of a CIA official. A man of such compromised morals wants nothing to do with a disappearance of another bi-racial American, especially one who may have been involved in the Japanese sex underground. Lisa's case falls to Kenzo Ota, a Tokyo detective with so many neuroses that he commands no respect. He gets Lisa's case because in the eyes of his co-workers, the disappearance of such a person is of no consequence whatsoever.
Don Lee weaves Lisa's story through Ota's search for her with fluidity and skill. His pointed look at Japanese society in 1980 is intelligent and interesting, with the additional intriguing reflection on the US reaction to bi-racial Americans. "Country of Origin" is completely satisfying and I look forward to Don Lee's next novel.
Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very well written, read it on vacation, a very good read. But compared to Don Lee's other novel, I didn't love the plot as much. Still, I am a Don Lee fan which means I really wanted to read his canon and see the evolution of his craft. And I have. I do not regret reading his work. It just means that I prefer some books (The Collective) to others, and it means he keeps getting better and better.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
How do bi-racial people fare in Japan? What is the sex club scene like there? What was the life like for expats around 1980? You'll learn about all these things in Country of Origin, which follows many people of various ethnic backgrounds (Korean-American, Koreans born in Japan, Afro-Asians, and more), and also several other unusual people who just don't fit into Japanese society,

Well-written and well-plotted, this book is a quick read, and more like a romp than serious literature. There is a murder mystery-sort-of theme, which unravels skillfully.

Perhaps this book was written for a younger audience. I usually enjoy literary fiction set in other countries. But I could not relate to most of the characters in this novel. The night life (sleazier side) wasn't exactly my cup of tea. And I don't know Japanese, so a lot of the terms confused me. The immaturity of embassy staff members made me a bit embarrassed. All in all, this wasn't my favorite book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Set in 1980 Tokyo, this debut novel preoccupies itself with the theme of identity born of mixed heritage. At the the plot level, it's a fairly effective mystery about an American woman who goes missing and the sad sack Japanese detective who's assigned her case. The woman is Lisa Countryman, who is ostensibly in Tokyo to research the sex economy for her PhD thesis. She was born in Japan, but was adopted as a baby by a black U.S. military family, and the real impetus for her trip is to locate her birth mother. When her sister in the U.S. eventually calls the embassy for help in locating her, the case is assigned to Tom Hurley. He's a somewhat dissolute 30something consular officer who's mostly interested in bedding the wife of a CIA officer, but is also conflicted about his own mixed heritage. Hurley passes the case on to Kenzo Ota, a lonely, ineffectual, middle-aged police detective invisible to his peers and society in general.

For Ota, the case is an opportunity to get away from his window office (a position of shame in the Japanese workplace at the time) and win some respect from his colleagues. Ota's investigation alternates with flashbacks to Lisa's arrival in Japan, as she drifts from research into bar hostessing, and hires a detective of her own to track down her mother. Meanwhile, a third subplot revolves around Hurley's affair with the CIA wife, Julia, who has somehow heard about the missing Lisa and takes a mysterious interest in the case. There's also a running subplot about Ota's personal life, which includes an encounter with his ex-wife and her son (who may be his), and a budding romance. This is a lot of plot to juggle, and Lee mostly pulls it off, although the book probably could have been much improved by excising or greatly diminishing the Hurley material.
Read more ›
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Country of Origin: A Novel
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Country of Origin: A Novel