Hailed as “one of the most insightful writers of our time,” Gish Jen balances analysis with storytelling, bringing brilliance, wit and warmth to pressing questions of culture, identity, and globalization. Why are human rights so important to the West, but not the East? Why did the West produce Apple, and the East Alibaba? What do we make of the copycat phenomenon we see in the East? How about the math scores? Why are some Easterners uncomfortable talking in class? Jen’s answers are always nuanced and ever surprising. Read More >
2017 MOCA Legacy Award Honoree
Remade in China: Why the East Embraces Imitation
Gender and the Business of Friction
Exploring Cultural Barriers Through Writing
Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and Self
Typical American on PBS
Why does the East, and especially China, approach many things – from innovation to intellectual property to human rights to elder care – so differently than the West? And is life in the East warmer, and why are East-West negotiations so difficult, and what exactly is going on with Asian and Asian American math scores? In this provocative, essential and wide-ranging talk, Jen shows how a profound difference in self drives many of the differences we perceive, as well as how understanding that difference –and embracing the bicultural among us – can foster creativity, tolerance, learning, and productivity. Ideal for corporations, legal firms, town halls, conferences, and general audiences, this talk can be adapted to address the particular concerns of the client.
Not all Asians are great test-takers; and not all Asian parents are crazy Asian parents. And, of course, Asians are not Asian Americans. Still, certain experiences, strengths and challenges tend to characterize Asian and Asian American students. Why is it so hard for some to speak up? Why do some parents push the way they do? Is there such a thing as Asian grit? What about a bamboo ceiling? Have experiences like the internment of the Japanese in WWII left their mark? In this talk, Gish Jen shows how deeply culture informs student life—and enriches it.
Is our mantra “To thine own self be true”? Or do we believe that, as Humphrey Bogarts says in Casablanca, that “the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world”? Drawing on a host of examples from art, architecture, and narrative, Jen fascinatingly demonstrates how deeply our relative individualism or collectivism affects our self-expression – as well as how our art in turn helps shape our selves.
Jen will read from her fiction and talk about her process and journey as well as about her themes and the world.
"Gish Jen has enlivened, enlightened, and empowered events at Harvard University. With her distinctive combination of dazzling expertise, quick wit, and engaging personality, she makes complex topics comprehensible and inviting. She is a fabulous speaker for legal and academic audiences."
"Our students, young and old, delighted in her accessibility, her sense of humor and her sheer exuberance and joy. Students and adults were mesmerized and drawn into Gish Jen’s life experience while contemplating their own. She was the perfect choice as the annual Baird English Symposium Author, and we will treasure her visit for years to come."
"Gish Jen's visit to Bryn Mawr College, where we host one of the most prominent literary reading series in the country, was nothing short of a revelation. Gish is a remarkably talented speaker and reader of her own work, and her engagement with our community was unparalleled. And beyond those anecdotal experiences, she is one of the most important writers working in America today, as she has been for now decades."
"Our visit with Gish Jen was wonderful - a very informative and interesting talk followed by dinner and book talk with the sponsors and slAAm! Book Club members. The students thoroughly enjoyed their time with her - she was very gracious and open to their questions. We truly appreciated her inspiring the students."
"At Boston College, Gish Jen has spoken to both small groups and packed amphitheaters. She connects as beautifully to undergraduates as she does to faculty and deans and combines a riveting stage presence with an ability to make you feel as if she's there for you alone. The range of topics and modes of presentation with which she is comfortable--from her own lively work to the art of writing to cross-cultural analysis--is just extraordinary. And on top of it, she is very funny, her sense of humor matched only by her brilliance. She makes people think in new ways about things like immigration and culture, brings people into the conversation who are often left out, and leaves everyone greatly changed."