The BookBrowse Review

Published January 22, 2020

ISSN: 1930-0018

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Book Jacket

The Resisters
by Gish Jen
4 Feb 2020
320 pages
Publisher: Knopf
ISBN-13: 9780525657217
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Speculative, Alt. History
Critics:
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The time: not so long from now. The place: AutoAmerica. The land: half under water. The Internet: one part artificial intelligence, one part surveillance technology, and oddly human--even funny. The people: Divided.

The angel-fair "Netted" have jobs, and literally occupy the high ground. The "Surplus" live on swampland if they're lucky, on water if they're not.

The story: To a Surplus couple--he once a professor, she still a lawyer--is born a Blasian girl with a golden arm. At two, Gwen is hurling her stuffed animals from the crib; by ten, she can hit whatever target she likes. Her teens find her happily playing in an underground baseball league.

When AutoAmerica rejoins the Olympics, though--with a special eye on beating ChinRussia--Gwen attracts interest. Soon she finds herself playing ball with the Netted even as her mother challenges the very foundations of this divided society.

A moving and important story of an America that seems ever more possible, The Resisters is also the story of one family struggling to maintain its humanity and normalcy in circumstances that threaten their every value--as well as their very existence.

Extraordinary and ordinary, charming and electrifying, this is Gish Jen at her most irresistible.

"The juxtaposition of America's pastime and the AI-enabled surveillance state Jen presents here is brilliant...Beautifully crafted and slyly unsettling." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"In this astutely realized and unnervingly possible depiction of a near-future world, Jen masterfully entwines shrewd mischief, knowing compassion, and profound social critique in a suspenseful tale encompassing baseball ardor, family love, newly insidious forms of racism and tyranny, and a wily and righteous resistance movement that declares 'RIGHT MAKES MIGHT.'" - Booklist (starred review)

"While some of Jen's fans might miss the overt humor of her previous work, her intelligence and control shine through in a chilling portrait of the casual acceptance of totalitarianism." - Publishers Weekly

"The Resisters is palpably loving, smart, funny and desperately unsettling. The novel should be required reading for the country, both as a cautionary tale and because it is a stone-cold masterpiece. This is Gish Jen's moment. She has pitched a perfect game." - Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House

"An absolute joy...I finished The Resisters with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face...Gish Jen has written a one-of-a-kind book with great characters—especially Eleanor, who is the heart of the story—and a warm heart." - Stephen King, author of The Institute

"Inventive, funny, and tender, The Resisters is about family, baseball, and the future—but more than anything, it is about freedom, and it is about us—here, now." - Allegra Goodman, author of The Chalk Artist

"Brilliant...A heartbreaking novel with the sensitivity, emotional range, and prophetic power of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale." - Jean Kwok, author of Searching for Sylvie Lee

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 University. The Resisters is her eighth book.

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