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Non capisco gli irlandesi by Gish Jen

Non capisco gli irlandesi (edition 2005)

by Gish Jen

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189398,668 (3.48)9
The stories in Who's Irish? show us the children of immigrants looking wonderingly at their parents' efforts to assimilate, while the older generation asks how so much selfless hard work on their part can have yielded them offspring who'd sooner drop out of life than succeed at it.  With dazzling wit and compassion, Gish Jen--author of the acclaimed novels Typical American and Mona in the Promised Land--looks at ambition and compromise at century's end and finds that much of the action is as familiar--and as strange--as the things we know to be most deeply true about ourselves.… (more)
Title:Non capisco gli irlandesi
Authors:Gish Jen
Info:Neri Pozza (2005), Paperback
Collections:Your library, Letti

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Who's Irish?: Stories by Gish Jen



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English (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (3)
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Gish Jen is an uncommon writer, conversant in multiple cultures and identities. The wit she sprinkles into her stories can produce a smile and a laugh, just before it quickens deeper emotions. [Who’s Irish?], a collection of short fiction, strips the layers off of what it means to be Chinese and American and both at the same time.

Among the most memorable stories in the collection is the title story, originally published in The New Yorker in 1998. Jen’s tale of a Chinese grandmother maneuvering the landmines of modern American child rearing is simple and fresh, given The New Yorker’s typical voice and subject matter for short fiction. There’s no sex obsessed tales of betrayal or post-modern alcohol stained ennui. The Chinese grandmother in the story is trying to care her granddaughter, the wild child of her daughter and her lazy, Irish son-in-law. Her daughter’s permissive nature has gone to seed, both in the case of the husband and the child. The strong wills of the grandmother and the child collide in a disaster. When the dust settles, grandmother is welcome only in the home of her Irish in-laws. The story is a biting examination of how two different traditional cultures have assimilated into an American landscape; on what remains and what doesn’t; on the lack of substance and the lack of any deep connection to history in the resulting identities.

Similarly, in the final and longest story in the collection, ‘House, House, Home,’ Pammie, a college girl from a traditional, first-generation Chinese family falls into a relationship with her college art professor. They marry and have children. Her family disapproves and ostracizes her because she married a white man or because she married a self-important oaf or because she married someone whose chosen profession is so esoteric – he doesn’t even produce art, he just thinks about it and talks about it. Whatever the reason, Pammie begins to indulge in her own artistic notion, and her husband leaves her. In picking up the pieces of her life, she reconnects with her family and her own identity.

Jen returns to this topic in her stories often, identifying the funny ironies of remaking yourself in a new culture. Along the way, she redefines what it means to be American. While the stories in [Who’s Irish?] are a little uneven, all of them are marked with her sharp tongue and keen eye, such that the whole is an evocative experience.

Bottom Line: A slightly uneven collection of stories that examine the meandering concept of cultural identity in the context of modern American life.

3 ½ bones!!!!! ( )
1 vote blackdogbooks | Feb 28, 2015 |
Funny, dry tone, some stories ramble a bit.
  sungene | Oct 24, 2007 |
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