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.
This biography was last updated on 09/05/2015.
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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 wayas if told by the various Wongs at a very long family therapy ...
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