From the highly
praised author of Mona in the Promised Land and Who's Irish?a
generous, funny, explosive novel about the new "half-half" American
Here is Carnegie Wong, second-generation Chinese American warm heart and funny
guy. Here is his WASP wife, the delicious "za-za-vavoomy" Blondie. Here
are their two adopted Asian daughters, and their half-half bio son. And here
is Mama Wong, Carnegie's no-holds-barred mother, who, eternally opposed to
his marriage, has arranged from her grave for a mainland Chinese relation to
come look after the kids. Is this woman, as Carnegie claims, a nanny? Or is
she, as Blondie fears, something else?
What happens as Carnegie and Blondie try to incorporate the ambiguous new
arrival into their already complicated lives is touchingly, brilliantly,
Powerfully evoking the contemporary American family in all its fragility and
strength, Gish Jen has given us her most exuberant and accomplished novel.
The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani The Love Wife, is also a big story a story about families and identity and
race and the American Dream, a story about how one generation deals with the
expectations and the hopes of an earlier generation, a story about how sons
and daughters make choices that define themselves against their parents. It is
a story that works a minor-key variation on many of the themes that Ms. Jen
has sounded in her earlier fiction, yet a story that also represents her most
ambitious and emotionally ample work yet.
The Los Angeles Times - Bernadette Murphy
Jen's humor and sharp writing are delightful...A tale about family love
and commitment in an era of political correctness.
The Boston Phoenix The Love Wife probes that profound human need to be part of a family and
to have your own place within it...Jen has created characters of complexity
Vibrant, multilayered...wise and compassionate, The Love Wife
unflinchingly probes the ties that bind–and separate–people, races and
Though the shifting first-person narratives sometimes come off as
this novel has a robust, lived-in quality that makes you miss it when it's
Booklist - Donna Seaman
Jen--a writer of great comedic skills, candor, and imagination, who
specializes in cultural collisions--portrays a hugely entertainingly American
family in her third novel, a vibrant work notable for its unusual and
arresting dialogue-saturated style...a smart, piquant, and far-reaching tragicomedy.
Library Journal - Dale Raben
Poignant, funny, and powerful in the tradition of her previous works, Jen's latest raises many questions about the significance of race relations within family life and provides an illuminating portrait of Chinese Americans. Highly recommended.
Maxine Hong Kingston
What a truly
satisfying read The Love Wife is. As I got to know the Wongs – a family
like more and more American families – I loved each one of them. Hearing their
multi-lingual voices and participating in their delights and sadnesses, their
fun and troubles, I felt my own understanding and kindness grow. A wonderful
I've been reading and marveling . . . Her characters are so alive that
one can hardly call them 'characters.' Blondie, Mama Wong, Carnegie, Lizzy,
Wendy, and, oh, Lan! I didn't want to part from them here is a novel so
insightful, so satisfying, that it ought never to have ended. The interlude in
China, the ingenuity of the narration, the tenderness, the all-observing
comedy, the darker elements, the perfect-pitch dialogue, the domestic
exactitude, the surprises! Having lived for a time (too brief a time) with
Gish's people as with one's own family, one comes to love them.
It's hard to find a novel that seems, at once, so funny and so touching
that one really is dumbstruck with admiration. The Love Wife, with its
fragmented narrative, its feast of voices, summons a strange new American
reality and declares it pure. I read the book in three sittings, and plan to
start it all over again soon, hating to leave this world, these characters,
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
As an internationally adoptive parent, the adolecent voices in "The Love Wife" ring with clarity and understanding. The use of multiple perspectives is a wonderful way to tell a story. Aas each character shares their story, and unique... Read More
Gish Jen's first novel was published in 1991; Typical American
followed three young Chinese immigrants who slowly transform into everything
they had once criticized as 'typically American'. In her next book, Mona
in the Promised Land (1996), which was named one of the LA Times' top ten books
of 1996, Jen continued to explore the notions of cultural diversity and ethnic
identity. In 1999 she published a collection of eight short stories titled
Who's Irish?: And Other Stories which examined American life from a foreigner's
perspective. In addition her short stories have been published in
many places including The New Yorker and The New York Times. The Love Wife is her fourth book.
A moving, realistic, but always hopeful narrative novel of the Wu family - father Nan, mother Pingping, and son Taotao - as they fully sever their ties with China in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and begin a new, free life in the United States.
In a novel that is at once uproariously funny and achingly sad, Allison Pearson captures the guilty secret lives of working women--the self-recrimination, the comic deceptions, the giddy exhaustion, the despair--as no other writer has.
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