Chang-Rae Lee's Native Speaker (1995) demonstrates the work a novel can do in speaking (up) for the human in the current life of the United States, even though the novel as an institution has become residual, as print literature yields to other media forms. Through his epigraph from Walt Whitman and his structural echoes of American first-person narratives such as Moby-Dick, The Great Gatsby, All the King's Men, and Invisible Man, Lee troubles the autoethnographic mode that he employs, in common with other important Asian American writings. Lee's work combines imaginative political vision with a commitment to the interpersonal intimacies of language in the human mouth, speaking across ethnic and racial lines.
Skip Nav Destination
Jonathan Arac; Violence and the Human Voice: Critique and Hope in Native Speaker. boundary 2 1 May 2009; 36 (2): 55–66. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2009-004
Download citation file: