Gish Jen

Gish Jen
In Conversation With Viet Thanh Nguyen
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Episode Summary

"I think this book could really save the world," said Ann Patchett of Gish Jen’s new dystopian novel The Resisters. This extraordinary story imagines a not-so-distant future of America—which she calls "AutoAmerica" and is half underwater and populated by two groups of people: the "Netted" of the higher ground and the “Surplus,” who live on swampland. A “Surplus” family’s home life is upended when their teen daughter with amazing baseball talents is allowed to play ball with the "Netted" in the hopes that their Olympic team will beat ChinRussia. Exploring how America’s favorite pastime collides with a very divided totalitarian society, this highly plausible, yet totally unsettling future brings into question the moral fabric of America as we know it today. Jen, the award-winning author of four previous novels, a story collection, and two works of nonfiction, the latest of which was The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap, will discuss her new book that takes on the all-too-real threats against maintaining our humanity.

Participant(s) Bio

Gish Jen has published short work in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and dozens of other periodicals, anthologies, and textbooks. 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, her work was featured in a PBS American Masters special on the American novel and is widely taught. Her newest novel, The Resisters, is her eighth book.

Viet Thanh Nguyen was born in Vietnam and raised in America. His stories have appeared in Best New American Voices, TriQuarterly, Narrative, and the Chicago Tribune , and he is the author of the academic book Race and Resistance. His first novel, The Sympathizer , won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction, and the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. His nonfiction book, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, will be published in April 2016. He teaches English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.