GISH JEN Biography - Writers


Biography » writers » gish jen


Name: Gish Jen                                                                                   
Born: 1956                                                                                       
Gish Jen (Chinese) (born Lillian Jen, named for the                                             
actress Lillian Gish, in 1955 in Long Island, New York) is a contemporary                       
American writer.                                                                                 
Several of her short stories have been reprinted in The Best American Short                     
Stories. Her piece "Birthmates", was selected as one of The Best American Short                 
Stories of The Century by John Updike. Her works include three novels, Typical                   
American, Mona in the Promised Land, and The Love Wife. She has also written a                   
collection of short fiction, Who's Irish? prompted by her marriage to an Irish-American.         
Her first novel, Typical American, attempts to redefine Americanness as a                       
preoccupation with identity. "As soon as you ask yourself the question, "What                   
does it mean to be Irish-American, Iranian-American, Greek-American, you are                     
American," she has said.                                                                         
Her second novel, Mona in the Promised Land concerns the invention of ethnicity.                 
The Love Wife, her most recent novel, portrays an Asian American family with                     
interracial parents and both biological and adopted children as "the new                         
American family." She asks the question "What is a family?" as a way of asking,                 
"What is a nation?"