Taking mitochondrial DNA as his guide, Lee explores familial and national legacies, and their persistence across shifting boundaries and the erosions of time. In these poems, the trait of an ancestor appears in the face of a newborn, and in her cry generations of women's voices echo. Stories, both benign and traumatic, travel as lore and DNA. Using lush, exact imagery, whether about the corner bar or a hilltop in Korea, Lee is a careful observer, tracking and documenting the way that seemingly small moments can lead to larger insights.
From Mitochondrial Night:
he explained, in the tradition
so the ancestors won't be so lonely.
Because spirits need us
more than we need them.
And for hours
they’ll listen to anyone
"Winner of an American Book Award and a PEN/Open Book Award, Lee strikes a dizzying balance between the organic and the cosmic, the intimate and mythological." —Publisher’s Weekly
“A thought-provoking collection that dives into the immigrant and refugee experiences of Lee’s parents as he envisions his daughter's future. Rooted in reality, the imagistic poems tackle the deep-rooted, long-term effects of colonialism that span generations.” —Mpls.St.Paul
“The literary history of travel writing is also full of spectacular and critical turns, thanks to work by Monique Truong, Bani Amor, and Karen Tei Yamashita, among others, that confronts the legacies of empire, decolonizes tourism, and repurposes the genre to gather up communities forcibly split and scattered. Mitochondrial Nightis a dazzling continuation of this project.” —Lantern Review Blog