Gish Jen

reads from

World and Town

Date

Oct
27
Thursday
October 27, 2011
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store is thrilled to welcome back local author GISH JEN for a reading from World and Town, her most recent novel, newly out in paperback.

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.

"World and Town is an expansive, brilliantly detailed portrait of the struggle within Hattie between her generously practiced American present and the shadows that test it. . . . An imaginatively questioning and shrewdly written novel of our times." —The Boston Globe

"One of Jen’s greatest strengths is her fluid point of view, which she employs beautifully here. . . . Nothing is fixed for these unsettled characters, who keep trying to build new lives in a bewildering world, and whose victories, when they come, bring not rapture but “a defining grace, bittersweet and hard-won.” —The New York Times

Gish Jen
Gish Jen

Gish Jen

Gish Jen is the author of the novels Typical American, Mona in the Promised Land, The Love Wife, and World and Town, as well as a collection of stories, Who’s Irish?, and a book of nonfiction, Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Interdependent Self, based on the Massey lectures she gave at Harvard. Her latest book is The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap. Her honors include the Lannan Award for Fiction and the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her upcoming novel, The Resisters, will be published in February 2020. 

Photo Credit: Romana Vysatova

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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