24 Sep / Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin [in Library Journal]
CIA agent Gary Shang was convicted of spying for China yet called himself “a patriot of both the United States and China.” Decades after Gary’s death, Lilian, his only child with his American wife, unexpectedly inherits his diary from his longtime mistress and discovers 30 years of his in-between existence.
A Fulbright lectureship gives Lilian, now a middle-aged professor, the opportunity to teach a semester in China, where she finds her father’s first family, whom he had been forced to abandon. Suddenly, Lilian is a sister and an aunt, which brings new responsibilities, realizations, and rewards.
Like his exquisite National Book Award-winning Waiting, Ha Jin’s latest is a meticulous observation of a manipulated life only partially lived. Presenting dovetailing narratives that feature Gary’s career from 1949 to 1979 and Lilian’s contemporary search and subsequent revelations, he deftly plots a family history caught between uncompromising attachments and inevitable betrayals. Spy story it may be, but what lingers is the immeasurable human toll.
Verdict: Jin’s groupies might startle at the occasional raw language not usually found in the author’s pages, but they won’t be disappointed. Newbie readers will undoubtedly rejoice to discover Jin’s unadorned, chilling Betrayal.