A Gesture Life is a highly acclaimed novel written by Chang-Rae Lee, who won the Asian American Literary Award for it. It is about a man named Doc Hata, who was a medic in WWII in a Japanese soldiers' camp, and his struggles to come to terms with the war and his problems in his daily life. The book narrates Hata's life through flashbacks, telling his narrative through an unique format of looking into the past.
Doc Hata was a medic in Burma, a Japanese Imperial Army camp, during WWII. His job was to treat Korean comfort women (sex slaves kept by the Japanese army for "therapeutic" purposes, which did occur in real life). During his tenure at the camp, Hata fell in love with a Korean comfort woman nicknamed "K"; however, she does not reciprocate his feelings, and he takes corrupt pleasures with her body. K eventually was killed, and Hata regrets her death immensely, having hallucinations of her. Through the book, Hata also tells of his troubles with his recalcitrant adopted daughter Sunny, whom he has a strained relationship with after she moved out of the house because of their constant arguments. The book chronicles how he attempts to locate Sunny and the complex ways in which he tries to assimilate into U.S culture.
A Gesture Life is an extremely complex read. Critics praised the depth of the plot, commending Lee for his blunt portrayal of the characters.