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A Person of Interest [With Earbuds]

3.44  ·  Rating Details  ·  871 Ratings  ·  210 Reviews

With its propulsive drive, vividly realized characters, and profound observations about soul and society, Pulitzer Prize-finalist Susan Choi's latest novel is as thrilling as it is lyrical, and confirms her place as one of the most important novelists chronicling the American experience. Intricately plotted and psychologically acute, A Person of Interest exposes the fault

Audio, 0 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Playaway (first published January 1st 2008)
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Mar 15, 2008 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
For the day and a half or so that I spent reading this book last weekend, very little got done in my home. When I finally finished it on Sunday evening, all the subtle indicators of a misspent weekend were evident - dirty dishes in the sink, heaps of dirty laundry, piles of assorted tax-related documents still needing to be corraled into some semblance of order, and two less than gruntled kitties, whose reproaches were getting progressively more vocal. Having written that, I realise that saying ...more
Mar 19, 2009 jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mike, simon
this is jhumpa lahiri meets zadie smith (look what you've done, jhumpa and zadie! turned a whole generation of women novelists to your stark, in the former case, and bleakly humorous, in the latter, demolition of the multiple barriers the human psyche erects to keep itself looking normal) meets dostoevsky. seriously. what a tour de force. susan choi takes the concept of "scene" so seriously that her scenes turn into long long chapters, even when all she describes is a trip from home to campus. t ...more
Dec 30, 2008 Mommalibrarian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got to page 133 out of 356. At this point I know that the story centers on a man of unknown oriental ancestry who is very uncomfortable with every aspect of his life. I knew that within a few pages of beginning. This is demonstrated in the present, recalled in the past and thought of when other characters have the first person floor. There does not appear to be a plot and there has been no action or progress toward any action. I did not find any foreshadowing that there would be any change for ...more
The author was recommended by/a friend of a wonderful college professor from Dublin.

reminded me of Love In the Time of Cholera in its long passages of scenery description and grace notes of inconsequentialities. a story of a man's isolation and ruptured american dream but the main plot was a bit sensational, although reflective of the news stories of campus disruptions. he looks back on a life where he missed all these opportunities with people significant to him.
Jul 30, 2014 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took a break from the Norwegians with this, and what a stunning read it was. It is beautifully written and contained such a wealth of detail about the lives we don't live within our lives that I thought the author was at least 100 years old and simply managed to look young for her age. There is also a breathtaking passage about hiking that had me itching to go outside. This was cruel since I wasn't going anywhere until I finished the damn book.
Aug 14, 2008 Meg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved AMERICAN WOMAN and this was kind of a let-down. The prose is really, really dense--entire pages without a paragraph break, lots of internal musing-but-not-searching. On top of that the protag is just not much fun to be around--it makes the plot believable, you can see how awkward he is around others, you can see how upsetting his temper is--but damn if I just hated being in his head for as long as I had to be. I would say up until like page 200 I was constantly ready to put this b ...more
Apr 22, 2010 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Midway through this novel, I abandoned it because it was a difficult read, and I wasn't able to properly concentrate due to personal issues. However, I picked it up again two reads later, and I enjoyed it.

It's extremely well written with complicated relationships; it has an intricate plot; and it will challenge your knowledge of vocabulary, for sure.

When a bombing at a college campus kills a charismatic, popular computer science professor, an older math colleague is implicated and becomes a pe
Aug 13, 2009 Marvin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: midwest
This AIR finalist by a former Pulitzer Prize finalist begins with the fatal bombing of a mathematician's office at a midwestern university in a small college town. The story is told from the perspective (though not in the voice) of the Asian immigrant mathematician whose office is right next door & who is interviewed & investigated by the FBI as "a person of Interest," which leads him to be viewed by the community as a suspect. Despite the subject, this is no thriller; it's not even a pa ...more
Angela Miller
Aug 23, 2014 Angela Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was all at the same time a wonderful and yet painfully honest and verbose read, full of bald, vivid descriptions of what's it's like to be different in a world of sameness when the world looks for someone to blame. I read as fast as I could, sometimes stumbling over the beautiful writing in my haste to get to the ending, which did not disappoint. In the end, the realizations reached there pertain to anyone who has made mistakes and tried to paint the past in a more palatable light to get th ...more
Rona Simmons
Mar 25, 2014 Rona Simmons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Person of Interest, the 2008 novel by Susan Choi (not the popular TV series) burst onto my reading list for 2014 as the latest selection of the Newcomb College Book Club. Newcomb, my alma mater, established the club a few years ago to bring together alums across the country via book club discussion groups and to establish a common ground for discussion among graduates and students. Membership in the club promised to be interesting–the first selection: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and a ...more
Oct 15, 2008 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this! There's a thriller/suspense aspect to it that moved me through the book much faster than I expected, balancing the sometimes rigid, sometimes austere prose. I am very interested to read another book by Choi to see if those sentences are how she writes, or if, as I suspect, they were a flawless depiction of the thought processes of the main character, a mathematics professor. (See-- I just wrote "mathematics" instead of "math" because Lee, the professor, would prefer it.)

Sarah Messick-Milone
This novel is an intriguing, intimate portrait of a man who does not seem to know how to relate intimately to others, even those he most deeply loves. Choi captures the isolation of a shy, anxious, and often arrogant man in often wry prose, marked with vivid images. The image of Lee's "many chambered anxieties" and the scene in which everything at home "seemed to have adopted a posture of conflict" against him seemed particularly apt. But by far the best writing in the novel surrounds Lee's firs ...more
Jul 04, 2009 Donna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
I selected this book partially because it had been billed as a "literary mystery." Unfortunately, it had annoyingly little mystery and a whole lot of pomposity that I wouldn't exactly call literary. The book, primarily about the life choices, judgments, and unremarkableness of its protagonist--a Japanese math professor--had a convoluted, intertwined mish-mash of character interactions it called a plot. I found it excruciatingly dull at times. Most of the book takes place inside people's heads an ...more
Aug 11, 2009 K rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K by: the TABBIEs book club
This book had a lot of potential; unfortunately, verbosity and excessive detail and rumination got in the way. The basic plot was thriller-like – a bomb kills misanthropic Professor Lee’s colleague, and events conspire so that Professor Lee is falsely implicated as a possible culprit. There’s also a backstory: Professor Lee’s first wife, Aileen, was originally married to a graduate school friend of his; the circumstances surrounding Lee and Aileen’s initial union were ugly and became uglier as A ...more
Jun 30, 2009 Kellyann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Francine Prose writes that Choi's novel "combin[es:] the unhurried pleasures of certain classics with the jittery tensions of more recent fiction," and that is exactly true. The book plumbs identity, cultural awareness, immigrant experiences, parent-child relationships, and professional competition (among many other things), without being about any of them. It is about the story it tells. And the story it tells is about a professor of mathematics grazed by the drama of a campaign of anti-technol ...more
Apr 26, 2010 L rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I was tempted to include this on my "horror" shelf. That's because of what happens to poor Prof. Lee when the FBI becomes interested in him, in their investigation of a bombing. Quite frankly, Lee isn't even a sympathetic character. He seldom expresses emotion, even to himself, despite some fairly dramatic happenings in his life. It wouldn't be fair to say that he ruined his wife's life, but he sure didn't do much to save it from ruin. Ditto for his daughter's life. None the less, his treatment ...more
Lynn Pribus
Feb 04, 2014 Lynn Pribus rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Downloaded from the library and I listened to most of one "segment." Seemed like a lot of navel-viewing by the omniscient narrator on behalf of the main character -- Professor Lee (or maybe Li?)

I went back and read more reader reviews and while some were 5 stars, a lot talked about how very slow it was. Just not engaging for me, and when I looked and saw there were SEVENTEEN segments....

Besides, my reserve had just come up for THE INTERESTINGS and I'm well launched into that. Also Open and Shut
Apr 01, 2014 Stella rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I FINALLY finished ugh barf all over this book. Except for this part:

"When she wasn't pursuing this train, she was singing the deluded song of praise for Esther's near-delinquent friends. They were misfits, Aileen said, as if this were something to cherish. All too smart or too creative or too morally distressed-BY WHAT? Lee thought scornfully. HAMBURGERS?"
Feb 14, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
took me a long time to get into this book but I'm very glad I stayed with it. Choi does an excellent job of building the complexity of her character. This can make for a slow beginning and brief belief that the characters are one dimensional, but as the novel progresses the characters become more interesting and engaging. By the time I was reaching the end, I didn't want to leave Lee, a character for the first quarter of the novel I had a hard time not finding despicable.

Lee, a reclusive, dislik
Aug 31, 2014 Risa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was on the fence between a three star and four star rating here. (GoodReads: please give the people what they want -- half-star rating option!) There is some wonderful writing here, and, ultimately, I did come to care very much about the protagonist, despite -- or perhaps because of -- his deep flaws. However, there are also plot points that strain credulity, and key characters who are under-developed. It felt to me as if the novel had been released before it was fully baked. But, in the end, ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Kallie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As usual, Choi distances her narrative from (yet disappears into) the main character, who through alienation, bitterness, and misanthropy (played out in every aspect of his life, also seamlessly presented) sets himself up as suspect number one in the investigation of the Unibomber death of a popular academician whom he has also seen as a rival. I never questioned a move this character made, both in present and back story, thanks to Choi's brilliant writing.
I think that part of the reason this audiobook took me so long to get through was that I didn't love the narrator. But the first half of this book was simply too long for me. The second half was interesting and paced well, but there was so much to get through to earn that excitement.
Choi's writing delves into race, class, age, and the meaning of family all mixed up in a crime/mystery.
I did not find this book as compelling as I expected to. The main character is just so blah and you spend so much time inside his head, I would have rather been inside someone else's head. I did not even understand how the women in his life ever were attracted to him or why he behaved the way he did when "a person of interest." The plot is interesting.
Feb 08, 2009 Seán rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-lit, 2009
This is Choi's best yet--she's grown tremendously from The Foreign Student and American Woman. Not to sound like a racist simpleton ("Ooh! Asians be writing!"), but I was reminded of Chang-Rae Lee's A Gesture Life in Choi's expert detailing of the protagonist's inner life, especially regarding the tortured relationship with a daughter.
Lynn Kanter
Oct 03, 2014 Lynn Kanter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Person of Interest (2008) is based loosely on an amalgam of the Unabomber story and the scientist whose life was destroyed unfairly – or maybe not – when he was announced as a person of interest in the anthrax case. Lee, a mathematician nearing retirement at a Midwestern university, is envious of his young, popular neighbor in the faculty offices – until the man opens a package that contains a bomb. Lee ultimately becomes a person of interest in the case. The novel is part mystery, part proced ...more
Jun 08, 2016 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure that I read the same novel as other readers who somehow rated this 4 or more stars. This was a most tiresome and drawn out story of an Asian-American professor of math at a small obscure Midwestern college that experiences a bombing. The main character, Professor Lee, is next door when the bomb explodes in his colleague's office. His public expression of outrage captured on the local media exhales him to a previously unknown level of notoriety which he doesn't actually enjoy. Soon e ...more
Apr 20, 2014 Leigh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would venture to guess that most people who start this book don't finish it. The writing is dense, the plot plods along slowly, and several times I found myself skimming for several pages instead of really paying attention. What kept me going was the author's ability to paint Dr. Lee as such a complex, interesting person. I'm a sucker for a good character study. The book is a psychological thriller, emphasis on the psychology and de-emphasis on the thriller. There needs to be a new word for th ...more
Alex Csicsek
A decent contemporary novel by Pulitzer Prize-nominated (though not for this book) author Susan Choi which explores the power of regret and guilt through the eyes of a Midwestern mathematics professor who gets caught up in an FBI investigation.

When Lee's despised colleague becomes the victim of a mail bomb, his lonely world starts to fall in on itself. His strange ways and little fibs catch the attention of the investigators on the case. Despite having never touched explosives in his lifetime, L
Timothy Hallinan
May 06, 2010 Timothy Hallinan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Susan Choi's first novel, THE FOREIGN STUDENT, but my reaction to this one is more complicated. It's about an immigrant mathematics professor (probably Korean, although it's never actually specified) who is injured in a bomb blast that kills the professor in the office next to his own. Much of the book is backstory, and beautifully told, lovingly detailed, layered in ways that produce surprising perspectives on events we already think we understand. When Professor Lee receives a letter f ...more
Ron Charles
Nov 28, 2013 Ron Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Susan Choi looks for essential American characters in the most peculiar places. Five years ago, she wrote a novel about Patty Hearst called American Woman that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and now she's back with A Person of Interest, a piercing story about the Unabomber that's one of the most remarkable novels to have emerged from our age of terror. American Woman followed the Hearst case closely, but Choi's success this time has nothing to do with fidelity to the historical record; i ...more
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Susan Choi was born in South Bend, Indiana, and raised there and in Houston, Texas. She studied literature at Yale and writing at Cornell, and worked for several years as a fact-checker for The New Yorker.

Her first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction, and her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize.

With David Remnick she c
More about Susan Choi...

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