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Thank you, Mr. Nixon : stories from the transformation
2022
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Brief Descriptions

"In her first collection of stories since the acclaimed Who's Irish?, the beloved author of The Resisters refracts the fifty years since the opening of China through the lives of ordinary people. Beginning with a cheery, kindly letter penned by a Chinesegirl in heaven to "poor Mr. Nixon" in hell, Gish Jen embarks on an eleven-story journey through U.S.-Chinese relations, capturing not only the excitement of a world on the brink of tectonic change, but the all-too-human encounters that ensue as East meets West. Opal Chen reunites with her sisters in China after a hiatus of almost forty years; American Arnie Hsu clashes with his Chinese girlfriend Lulu Koo, who wonders why Americans "like to walk around in the woods with the mosquitoes"; Tina and Johnson Koo take wholly surprising measures to reestablish contact when their "number one daughter," Bobby, stops answering her phone in New York; and Betty Koo, brought up on "no politics, just make money," finds she must square her mother's philosophy with the repression in Hong Kong. With their profound compassion, equally profound humor, and unexpected connections, these masterful stories reflect history's shifting shadow over our boldest decisions and most intimate moments. Gradually accruing the power of a novel as it proceeds, Thank You, Mr. Nixon furnishes yet more proof of Gish Jen's enduring place among the most eminent of American storytellers"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

This collection brings to life an 11-story journey through U.S.-Chinese relations, capturing both the excitement of a world on the brink of change and the all-too-human encounters that follow as East meets West. - (Baker & Taylor)

The acclaimed, award-winning author of The Resisters takes measure of the fifty years since the opening of China and its unexpected effects on the lives of ordinary people. It is a unique book that only Jen could write—a story collection accruing the power of a novel as it proceeds—a work that Cynthia Ozick has called “an art beyond art. It is life itself.”

Beginning with a cheery letter penned by a Chinese girl in heaven to “poor Mr. Nixon” in hell, Gish Jen embarks on a fictional journey through U.S.-China relations, capturing the excitement of a world on the brink of tectonic change.
 
Opal Chen reunites with her Chinese sisters after forty years; newly cosmopolitan Lulu Koo wonders why Americans “like to walk around in the woods with the mosquitoes”; Hong Kong parents go to extreme lengths to reestablish contact with their “number-one daughter” in New York; and Betty Koo, brought up on “no politics, just make money,” finds she must reassess her mother’s philosophy.
 
With their profound compassion and equally profound humor, these eleven linked stories trace the intimate ways in which humans make and are made by history, capturing an extraordinary era in an extraordinary way. Delightful, provocative, and powerful, Thank You, Mr. Nixon furnishes yet more proof of Gish Jen’s eminent place among American storytellers. - (Random House, Inc.)

Author Biography

GISH JEN is the author of one previous book of stories, five novels, and two works of nonfiction. Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the Fulbright Foundation, as well as the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction and the Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her stories have been chosen for <i>The</i> <i>Best American Short Stories</i> five times, including <i>The Best American Short Stories of the Century</i>; she has also delivered the William E. Massey, Sr., Lectures in American Studies at Harvard University. She and &nbsp;her husband split their time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Vermont. - (Random House, Inc.)

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Reviews Via Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly Reviews

President Nixon's 1972 visit to China provides the context for Jen's masterly collection (after The Resisters), which explores the cultural wounds and generational gaps of mainlanders and Chinese Americans. In the tongue-in-cheek title story, a riff on Dante's inferno, a dead middle-aged Chinese woman named Tricia Yang writes from her perch in heaven to President Nixon, who resides in the ninth ring of Hell. Tricia recalls speaking with Nixon when she was a young girl during his 1972 visit and how Pat Nixon's famous red coat influenced her family to start their own coat manufacturing business, eventually exporting to the U.S., where the "Made in China" label elicits backlash from jingoistic consumers. In this and other stories, Jen skillfully reveals the book's main theme: is bridging differences ever truly possible? In the satirical "It's the Great Wall!" Opal Tsu, a Chinese immigrant living in the U.S., reckons with her daughter's cultural misunderstandings during a trip through China, and becomes the tour group's unofficial interpreter upon finding out that their official guide speaks little English. In this and other stories, Jen inserts a character who becomes a mediator, reluctantly translating for hapless Americans. "Rothko, Rothko" centers on the ethical dilemmas faced by a Chinese American literature professor who meets a Chinese art forger and deals with an ambitious Chinese student who takes the name Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot's original name) and commits plagiarism. With wry humor, pathos, and punchy dialogue, Jen's uncanny stories easily stand up to her hefty themes. This is a stellar addition to Jen's prolific body of work. Agent: Daniel Kirschen, ICM Partners. (Jan.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

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