From the beloved author of Mona in the Promised Land and The Love Wife comes this comic masterpiece, an insightful novel of immigrants experiencing the triumphs and trials of American life.
Gish Jen reinvents the American immigrant story through the Chang family, who first come to the United States with no intention of staying. When the Communists assume control of China i
I have long wondered how my Chinese clients pick their Americanized name. How does Xiangxin become John? And Wenxia become Sara? The book solves the mystery! They have the secretary at their college’s office of international education pick it for them. Said secretary rolls through a mental list of all her ex-boyfriends. It’s like spinning the wheel of fortune. Voila, Yifeng becomes Ralph! Even Ralph seems letdown by this process:
Walking home, t ...more
Usually, I love stories about Chinese Americans—because that’s me. I can totally relate to that. Anyway, that’s what this book is about: a boy called Ralph Chang who makes his way to America to study and get a degree. He later marries Helen and his sister Theresa comes to live with hi ...more
Having said t ...more
The only good thing is that it gives me insight regarding Chinese experience.
I really dislike the writing style, too confusing. My head hurts because of sentences that won't make sense even I read them over and over again.
I read this for class fortunately, the teacher is great for triggering interesting discussion about Chinese experience, not abo ...more
I read this for an online English course. What follows is my discussion board post covering this novel:
American Dream, Chinese Nightmare
Ralph Chang comes to the United States to get an education, vowing to keep his head down (hardly looking at the sights during his transcontinental train ride) and dedicate his spare time to cultivating virtue, honoring his family, and keeping away from girls (Gish 6). In tim ...more
Yifeng (Ralph) Chang comes to the US from China to study engineering. He starts out proud of his virtuous ethical ideals and then they disappear. Same thing happens to his sister Theresa and eventual wife Helen. Ralph befriends a Chinese-American named Grover Ding, a millionaire with questionable morals of his own, and ...more
I would like to take this opportunity to air some of my grievances about Typical American. I mean this as an opinionated response, and I don’t mean to offend anybody who enjoys this book at all.
I had been looking forward to starting to read this book, because I tend to enjoy books about immigrants and foreigners who experience American ...more
By Colin Eldred
The book Typical American by Gish Jen is about a Chinese family who sends their children to the United States for school and job opportunities. The children use the phrase typical American as a way of calling us dumb or stupid. By the end of the book the family changes their views on what the typical American really is because of all of their experiences in the United States. I found this book very interesting in the beginning, but the rest I ...more
As to the characters, most are unlikable, even before their Faustian acts.
It feels like ...more
Since my family has lived in America for generations, I am always interested in the plight of newcomers to our nation. When I look at current struggles immigrants face, along with those my Irish ancestors faced, it makes me feel guilty for having a less stressful experience. I enjoyed reading this book because it shows the plight of Yifeng, an optimistic and somewhat naive newcomer to America. I enjoyed the character development he goes to, from changing his name to ...more
In telling the story of Ralph Chang's journey from his youth in China through his emigration to the U.S., Jin tells a sort of every-immigrant story. There are all of Ralph's conflicts as the son of the family who is not a superstar; there are his difficulties with the English language; there is his failure to register his alien status and hi ...more
But not only does the writing flower just the right amount, being succinct and to-the-point, Jen knows what she's talking about, too. Unlike certain other Chinese-related books ...more