Brilliant, funny, and ever-surprising, Gish Jen tackles the issues of our time with originality and heart. Her latest book, Thank You, Mr. Nixon, named one of the best books of 2022 by the New Yorker, Oprah Daily, and NPR—which refracts the fifty years since the opening of China through the eyes of its everyday citizens—is her first collection of short fiction in two decades. “A jewel box of creativity and a joy to uncover” (The Minneapolis Star Tribune), it was named a most anticipated book by Esquire, The Los Angeles Times among other publications, earning starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist. As NPR noted, “Every story in this collection, though, is outstanding. Thank You, Mr. Nixon is an exceptional collection, written with intelligence, wit and grace — it’s one of the best books of Jen’s remarkable career.”
“Marvelous… On the surface her storytelling seems simple and direct, but the closer you look the more layered and complex it becomes.… In all her work, Jen locates the tensions between inherited and lived cultures.”
—The New York Times
Her most recent novel, the IndieBound bestseller The Resisters, imagines an America some fifty years from now, in which surveillance technology supports a new Jim Crow—challenged by a girl with a golden arm and an underground baseball league. “A stone-cold masterpiece” that “should be required reading for the country” (Ann Patchett), The Resisters has been named one by both Esquire and Parade as one of the best sci-fi and dystopian novels of all time respectively. The New York Times noted “it grows directly out of the soil of our current political moment” and Newsday declared “The Resisters is a 1984 for our times.” She has further explored the world first introduced in The Resisters through short fiction pieces for The New York Times Privacy Project special issue and Audible.
It is not the first time Jen has addressed the American Dream—or nightmare. Many of her early novels are classics of American immigrant literature, distinguished by an inimitable blend of charm and vision. Her debut novel, Typical American—a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award—seeks to redefine Americanness as a preoccupation with identity. Mona in the Promised Land—a book author Amy Tan called “both hilariously funny and seriously important”—raises questions about whether we are defined by choice or blood. The Love Wife explores the experiences of mixed-race families in what Michiko Kakutani called “a big story about families and identity and race and the American Dream” on the eve of 9/11. And World and Town follows a retired schoolteacher through her move to a small New England town challenged by globalization.
“Gish Jen is the Great American Novelist we’re always talking about.”
—Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
A true Renaissance woman, Jen explores our changing world in her nonfiction as well. In The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap, Jen offers a provocative and essential look at the different ideas Eastern and Western cultures have about self and society. Drawing on personal experience, a wealth of illuminating anecdotes, and insights from cultural psychology, Jen enriches our understanding of ourselves and our world. Writing in The Washington Post, novelist Lisa See observed “Gish Jen has once again taken the universal and made it personal, and vice versa.”
Asked to give the Massey Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University in 2012, Jen interwove her father’s life story with cutting-edge research to reveal and explain cultural differences in narrative. Her lectures―published by Harvard University Press as Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Interdependent Self―have since become a mainstay of creative writing courses. Novelist Junot Diaz calls Tiger Writing “penetrating, inspired, and, yes, indispensable… a profound meditation on the divergent roles that storytelling, artmaking, and selfhood take on across the East-West divide.”
“Gish Jen is at the forefront of American writers dealing with that most basic of American issues―who we are as a country and a culture. Her work is as serious and important as this issue, but her books and stories are nevertheless a joy to read, full of wit, humor, nuance, and emotion.”
―Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer
Jen’s short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, and dozens of other periodicals and anthologies. The “tender and funny” (The San Francisco Chronicle) collection Who’s Irish, explores ambition, compromise, and assimilation through stories of first- and second-generation immigrants. She has, what’s more, been published in The Best American Short Stories four times, including in The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. In fact, for a 1999 issue of The Times Magazine (UK) where preeminent 20th century figures tapped their successors for the new millennium, Updike chose Jen.
A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Jen is a recipient of fellowships from, among others the Radcliffe Institute, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction and a Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She serves on the Board of Directors of the MacArthur Foundation. Her work has been featured in a PBS American Masters special on the American novel. Currently, she is a visiting professor at Harvard University and holds honorary doctorates from Emerson College and Williams College.
In her lively and informative talks, Jen explores the experiences, passions, and practices that give rise to her work.
For more information on Gish Jen, please visit her on Facebook, Twitter and at gishjen.com.Download Gish Jen's press kit here.