Gish Jen biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Gish Jen

Gish Jen

Gish Jen Biography

Gish Jen (Lillian Jen) was born in Long Island, New York in 1955, a second-generation Chinese-American. She graduated from Harvard with a degree in English and later attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

Jen has written several novels, collection of short stories, and a volume of lectures. In addition, her stories have been published in many places including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times, as well as in various anthologies.

Nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award and an International IMPAC Dublin Book Award, her work was also featured in a PBS American Masters special on the American novel, and is widely taught. Jen was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. She has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, and numerous other awards. In 2003, an American Academy of Arts and Letters jury comprised of John Updike, Cynthia Ozick, Don DeLillo, and Joyce Carol Oates granted her a five-year Mildred and Harold Strauss Living award; Jen also delivered the Massey lectures in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University in 2012. Her most recent book, Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Interdependent Self is based on those lectures.

She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and children.

Link to Gish's website

This biography was last updated on 09/05/2015.

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Interview

A Conversation with Gish Jen about The Love Wife

The Love Wife is your third novel.  How might this book surprise readers of your previous novels, Typical American and Mona in the Promised Land?  What surprised you?
The Love Wife is not about the Chang family, for one thing.  Also this book is, I hate to say more middle-aged, but that's probably the truth.  I've lived through more, and it shows. 

At the same time, what really surprised me about The Love Wife was, paradoxically, how young I felt, writing it.  In my non-writing life, I felt tired and stressed and a shadow of my younger self in most every respect.  In my writing life, though, all of that seemed to fall away:  This novel wrote itself and wrote itself as if it did not realize its author got no sleep and no exercise and could barely remember what year it was.  I could not have been more amazed and grateful.


The novel is told in the different voices of the Wong family.  Why did you decide to write the novel in this form?
The novel came to me this way–as if told by the various Wongs at a very long family therapy ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Gish Jen at BookBrowse
World and Town jacket The Love Wife jacket
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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Gish Jen but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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    Ha Jin

    Xuefei Jin, who writes under the pseudonym Ha Jin, was born in 1956 in Liaoning Province in northern China. His father was a military officer. In 1969, at only 14 years of age, Ha Jin joined the People's Liberation Army based... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Love Wife

    Try:
    A Free Life
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  • Barbara Kingsolver

    Barbara Kingsolver

    Barbara Kingsolver was born on April 8, 1955. Other than a brief time (1963) spent in a small village in central Congo, she grew up "in the middle of an alfalfa field," in the part of eastern Kentucky that lies ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Love Wife

    Try:
    Prodigal Summer
    by Barbara Kingsolver

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