NPR logo
Book Review: 'A Map Of Betrayal'
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/368041101/368041102" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Book Review: 'A Map Of Betrayal'

Book Reviews

Book Review: 'A Map Of Betrayal'

Book Review: 'A Map Of Betrayal'
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/368041101/368041102" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Alan Cheuse reviews "A Map of Betrayal" by Ha Jin.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Most spy thrillers are about coldhearted people betraying one nation for another. But a new novel from Ha Jin was inspired by spy who, when he was caught, insisted he was looking out for two countries. Alan Cheuse has a review of "A Map Of Betrayal."

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: Gary Shang - that's the name of the Chinese-born main character. He hails from the countryside, takes a wife there, but in 1949, he lands a job as a translator at an American cultural agency while, at the same time, he's recruited as a spy for the Chinese government. Rising with his American boss, he eventually emigrates to the U.S. and embeds in the CIA.

For number of decades, Shang regularly sends reports to his handler in China, even as he marries an American wife and makes a second family in the states. Chapters about Shang's early life alternate with others narrated by his American daughter, Lillian, as she uncovers deception upon deception after his death.

The book stands out for the way it straddles a number of worlds - China and the U.S., family life and adultery - and in Shang's case, the torturous inner life of a man torn between loyalty to two nations.

CORNISH: The book is "A Map Of Betrayal" by Ha Jin. It was reviewed by Alan Cheuse.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.