Fall Conference 2019

Searching for Home: Journeys, Quests and Migrations

November 15-16, University of Vermont

Gish Jen

Funny, surprising, and observant, Gish Jen is a brilliant chronicler—in both fiction and nonfiction—of America and the immigrant experience. Her work explores not only themes of alienation and identity, but also artistic expression and the self, as she challenges us to ask how the cultures we are steeped in influence the stories we tell.

Jen’s early novels, including her debut Typical American—a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award—Mona in the Promised Land, The Love Wife, World and Town are classics of American immigrant literature. Jen’s newest novel, The Resisters, out in February 2020, invites the reader into a not-so-distant dystopian future, in a story Allegra Goodman calls “inventive, funny, and tender.” In Jen’s nonfiction book The Girl at the Baggage Claim, praised by Amy Chua as “subtle, erudite, and daring,” Jen offers a provocative and essential look at the different ideas Eastern and Western cultures have about self and society. And in Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Interdependent Self, she draws on a wealth of personal and familial experiences to expose and explain cultural differences in narrative.

In addition to The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and many other publications, Jen’s short stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories four times, including in The Best American Short Stories of the Century. She is the recipient of the Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award, the most lucrative literary award in the US, as well as Lannan, Fulbright, Radcliffe, Guggenheim, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. In her talks, Jen explores the themes that animate her work: cultural difference, artistic expression, dystopia, writing, the American Dream, and feminism.