The Pepperdene Speaker Series
A deeply influential writer about race, class and immigrant life in America, Chang-rae Lee has built a dazzling reputation as “a spellbinder” (The Hartford Courant), “a master craftsman” (The Washington Post), and “an original” (the Los Angeles Times). His debut novel, Native Speaker, which was published in 1995 and awarded the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, explores themes of alienation and betrayal that mark the experiences of many immigrants and first-generation citizens. He is also the author of A Gesture Life, Aloft, and The Surrendered, which received the Dayton Peace Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Lee’s latest novel, My Year Abroad, was an instant national bestseller and examines a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure that provides insight into the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection. Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, mental health, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion—on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs.
Lee’s previous novel, On Such a Full Sea, was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award. His other numerous accolades include The New Yorker’s “20 Writers for the 21st Century,” the 2021 Award of Merit for the Novel from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and an Asian American Literary Award. He is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Oregon and currently teaches creative writing at Stanford University.
The Pepperdene Speaker Series brings writers of distinction to Paideia through the support of a legacy gift from Jane Pepperdene, a profound teacher who taught literature at Paideia and Agnes Scott College for more than twenty years. Jane was an absolute believer in the power of story. Her gift to the school has brought prolific writers such as Richard Wilbur, former United States Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, and even one of Jane’s students and Paideia alum, Mosi Secret ’97 to campus to engage with students, parents, alumni, and the community. Thanks to Jane’s generosity and her legacy gift, writers of distinction will be able to continue to do the same for years to come.
If you are interested in including Paideia in your legacy plans and joining our Fountain of Youth Society, please contact Kelly Douglas ’02 at douglas.kelly@paideiaschool.