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Gish Jen, Photo by Romana Vysatova
Photo: Romana Vysatova
Bookmark and ShareGish Jen

Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Craft talk � 4:15 p.m., Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

Presentation/Q&A � 7:30 p.m., Huxley Theatre, NYS Museum, Cultural Education Center, Albany

Gish Jen has been praised by Junot Diaz as the "the Great American Novelist we’re always hearing about," and John Updike named her as his literary successor in the 21st century.

Her most recent book, The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap, looks at different ideas Easterners and Westerners have about the self and society and what this means for current debates in art, education, geopolitics, and business. The Girl at the Baggage Claim by Gish Jen

Sherry Turkle, MIT professor and author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, said, "Misunderstanding East-West differences can cost us in every way we know how to measure: in money, friendship, education, in the balance of power, and the fate of the planet. The Girl at the Baggage Claim is remarkable and fluent but, most of all, essential."

Jen writes on her website: "While I think this book will be of special interest to anyone who is teaching or doing business with Asians, or visiting or studying Asia, I hope it will be read, too, by people wanting just to understand the world and themselves."

A 2013 profile published in the Boston Globe offers insight into Gish’s literary appeal: "What’s most unique about Gish’s voice is that it’s humorous," says Jennifer Ho, associate professor in the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Department of English and author of Understanding Gish Jen. "There's a certain type of witty irony that she employs. She also has a generosity of spirit toward all of her characters, even the ones who aren’t particularly likable."

The author of six previous books, including The Love Wife (2004), Mona in the Promised Land (1996), Who’s Irish? (1999), and Typical American (1991), Jen has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and dozens of other periodicals and anthologies. 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, Gen was featured in a PBS American Masters’ special on the American novel.

Jen has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, and numerous other awards. 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.

A second-generation Chinese-American, Jen was born on Long Island and grew up in Queens and Westchester County. Her birth name is Lillian, but during her high school years she acquired the nickname Gish, named for actress Lillian Gish.

Cosponsored by the State Education Department�s Office of Cultural Education, Friends of the New York State Library, and the UAlbany Center for International Education and Global Strategy in association with the launch of its new Global Distinction program.