Powerfully evoking the contemporary American family in all its fragility and strength, Gish Jen has given us her most exuberant and accomplished novel about the new "half-half" American family.
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, intricately told.
Powerfully evoking the contemporary American family in all its fragility and strength, Gish Jen has given us her most exuberant and accomplished novel.
The Love Wife
BLONDIE / The day Lan came, you could still say whose family this
was--Carnegie's and mine.
We had three children. Two beautiful Asian girls--or should I say Asian American--Wendy, age nine, and Lizzy, age fifteen, both adopted; and one bio boy, Bailey, age thirteen months. Carnegie's ancestry being Chinese, and mine European, Bailey was half half, as they say--or is there another term by now? With less mismatch in it--'half half' having always spoken to me more of socks than of our surprise child, come to warm the lap of our middle years.
Our family was, in any case, an improvisation. The new American family, our neighbor Mitchell once proclaimed, tottering drunk up our deck stairs. But for Carnegie and me, it was simply something we made. Something we chose.
His mother, Mama Wong, thought this unnatural.
The trouble with you people is not enough periods, she liked to say. You can say I ...
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.
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