Saturday, February 18, 2012

Our February Author: Susan Choi (A Person of Interest)

This month we are reading Susan Choi's A Person of Interest. The publisher's website for the book contains biographical information about the author, a selection of reviews, and if you download the reader's guide, you will find a useful interview with the author. Here's a charming video introduction, in which Ms. Choi recalls her childhood writing experiments,

We previously featured a lengthier Asia Society video featuring both Susan Choi and Young-Ha Kim whose, Your Republic Is Calling You, we read last fall.  This reading from NPR also has some good character insights and observations about how she draws her stories from news stories in the Q&A.

The novel draws on the Wen Ho Lee and Ted Kaczynski cases.  (One of the saddest things about researching this post was finding out how much misinformation still litters the net about Wen Ho Lee.) Here Susan Choi talks briefly about how she used the Lee case in A Person of Interest:

Also of note is the use of the term 'Person of Interest' as a euphemism for 'suspect.'  Here is some background via Wikipedia and a 2006 American Journalism Review article about the perils of the increasing use of this Orwellian phrase,
Last year, news reporters used the term to describe dozens of people in more than 40 cases in 19 states, according to news database searches. The media referred by name to the vast majority of these people, even though at AJR's deadline at least half had not been charged with any crimes. In most instances, reporters appeared to use the term without pressing police to define it, leaving the interpretation up to the audience.
Finally, as a sidenote, one of the notable aspects of the Ted Kaczynski case, is that his brother, David, turned him in, having first sought guarantees that Ted would not face the death penalty. David later became the Executive Director of New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and continues to advocate for abolition of the death penalty.  Here is an interesting recent blog post in the Albany TimesUnion about bystanders and crime: Limits to Loyalty.

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