In this outstanding first book of poems, Lee is unafraid to show emotion, especially when writing about his father or his wife. "But there is wisdom in the hour in which a boy sits in his room listening," says the first poem, and Lee's silent willingness to step outside himself imbues Rose with a rare sensitivity. The images Lee finds, such as the rose and the apple, are repeated throughout the book, crossing over from his father's China to his own America. Every word becomes transformative, as even his father's blindness and death can become beautiful. There is a strong enough technique here to make these poems of interest to an academic audience and enough originality to stun readers who demand alternative style and subject matter.
Li-Young Lee was born in 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesia, of Chinese parents. In 1959 his father, after spending a year as a political prisoner in President Sukarno's jails, fled Indonesia with his family. Between 1959 and 1964 the Lee family traveled throughout Hong Kong, Macau and Japan, until arriving in America.