Gish Jen

Gish Jen’s stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories four times, including The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike; her story, “Who’s Irish?,” is the very last entry in Peking University Press’s just-published ten-volume anthology of World Literature edited by David Damosch of Harvard University and Chen Yongguo of Tsinghua University.   Featured in a PBS TV American Masters series on the American Novel, Jen is also the author of the novels Typical American, Mona in the Promised Land, Who’s Irish?, The Love Wife, and World and Town.

Her many awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the National Endowment for the Arts.  She received a Lannan Award in Literature in 1998, and a Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2003.  (The Strauss Living, a $250,000 award, is the most lucrative literary honor in America.)  She was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009, and delivered the Massey Lectures in American Civilization at Harvard University in the spring of 2012.  These were published by Harvard University Press the following year as Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Interdependent Self.

Princeton critic Elaine Showalter, who named Jen as one of the eight most important woman writers in America, says Jen writes about “great American themes without pretension or fanfare” – an assessment with which writer Junot Diaz agrees.  Calling her work “absolutely indispensable,” Jen is, he says, “the Great American Novelist we are always talking about. “