Autobiographical first novel told from the point of view of a young Amerasian boy, the son of a ``yellow-haired'' German-American GI and his Korean wife. Young Insu grows up in Inchon in a house that was owned by a Japanese colonel during WW II. Korean resisters were tortured here in the beautiful garden, but Insu, a sensitive boy, prefers to imagine the cruel colonel to have been more like a harsh surrogate father than a murderer. Insu's sorrows exist not only in his imagination. His mother gave up her other son for adoption so that her GI lover, Insu's father, would marry her. The missing brother is like a missing limb, and because of him, Insu despises his profane, profoundly alien father, whom he visits periodically on a post near the DMZ. There, he learns of other worlds: the Vietnam his father has been transferred from, the Germany where his Caucasian grandparents live, and, strangest of all, the America that he senses will shape his destiny. Although his father is diagnosed with inoperable cancer, Insu and his mother emigrate to America; she goes in the hope of finding her lost son, who had been adopted by an American couple. In the new land, an overwhelmed Insu tries to form an identity out of his mixed heritage of Korean folklore, Inchon street-life, and the black market strategies of his mother, all amid the confusion of America. Eventually, he begins to find his own way. He does well in school and his future is promising. And yet his brother, a symbol of his wrenching past, and of the difficult relationship between America and Korea, will always haunt him. Rather slow-moving, and different from its obvious antecedent, Gus Lee's moving but awkward China Boy. Think instead of James Agee's A Death in the Family: not as powerful, perhaps, but equally lyrical, dreamy, and sad.
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