World and Town: Book summary and reviews of World and Town by Gish Jen

World and Town

by Gish Jen

World and Town by Gish Jen X
World and Town by Gish Jen
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  • Published Oct 2010
    400 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

Hattie Kong - the spirited offspring of a descendant of Confucius and an American missionary to China - has, in her fiftieth year of living in the United States, lost both her husband and her best friend to cancer. It is an utterly devastating loss, of course, and also heartbreakingly absurd: a little, she thinks, "like having twins. She got to book the same church with the same pianist for both funerals and did think she should have gotten some sort of twofer from the crematorium."

But now, two years later, it is time for Hattie to start over. She moves to the town of Riverlake, where she is soon joined by an immigrant Cambodian family on the run from their inner-city troubles, as well as - quite unexpectedly - by a just-retired neuroscientist ex-lover named Carter Hatch. All of them are, like Hattie, looking for a new start in a town that might once have represented the rock-solid base of American life but that is itself challenged, in 2001, by cell-phone towers and chain stores, struggling family farms and fundamentalist Christians.

What Hattie makes of this situation is at the center of a novel that asks deep and absorbing questions about religion, home, America, what neighbors are, what love is, and, in the largest sense, what "worlds" we make of the world.

Moving, humorous, compassionate, and expansive, World and Town is as rich in character as it is brilliantly evocative of its time and place. This is a truly masterful novel - enthralling, essential, and satisfying.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Jen's prose is unique, dense, and enthralling, and her characters are marvels of authenticity." - Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week

"Starred Review. Jen’s richly stippled novel slyly questions every assumption about existence and meaning even as it celebrates generosity, friendship, and love." - Booklist

"[The] usually deft Jen has thrown too many characters into the stew, serving up a novel of ideas more easily admired than enjoyed." - Kirkus

This information about World and Town was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Gish Jen Author Biography

Gish Jen has published short work in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and dozens of other periodicals, anthologies and textbooks. Her work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories four times, including The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. Nominated for a National Book Critics' Circle Award, her work was featured in a PBS American Masters' special on the American novel and is widely taught.

Jen is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, and a Mildred and Harold Strauss Living; she has also delivered the William E. Massey, Sr. Lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard ...

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Link to Gish Jen's Website

Other books by Gish Jen at BookBrowse
  • The Resisters jacket
  • The Love Wife jacket
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