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Who's Irish?: Stories
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Who's Irish?: Stories

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  540 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
"Sparkling--a gently satiric look at the American Dream and its fallout on those who pursue it."--The New York Times

With dazzling wit and compassion, Gish Jen--author of the highly 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
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 13th 2000 by Vintage (first published 1999)
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Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
What a great collection of stories. I picked this up after reading a Samantha Lan Chang interview where she cites Gish as a similar author. Gish has a wonderful roughness to her writing, a deadpan humor that eases the harshness of the stories. While I wouldn't necessarily compare these stories with Chang's, I'm eager to pick up a novel.

House, House, Home, the last story in the book, really got into the question of voluntary exclusion. Juxtaposing an eccentric and affluent art professor with Pam
Michael  Malone
Oct 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Dazzling. Eight short stories focused essentially on the Chinese experience in America, with one on the (Chinese-) American experience in China. (The title, stemming from a Chinese woman's view of the Irish-American family her daughter married into, is misleading.) Expertly articulated; Jen has a gift for rendering tiny details with exquisite flair in her depictions of foreignness and alienation.
The final story, House, House, Home, flips the script, with the protagonist getting a new perspectiv
Jun 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Although from skimming the other reviews, it seems like some felt that Jen is better-suited to novels than short stories, I disagree. Sometimes, Jen's novels feel a little schizophrenic to me in the middle, like Jen loses her attention span and is racing around from perspective to perspective. In the short stories, obviously, Jen doesn't need to maintain her attention span through 300 pages, and I feel the book is better for it. I really enjoy Jen's writing style and ...more
May 22, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one.
Lord this was boring. First of all, it's short stories, which I tend to disklike b/c I want more from my characters and time. Secondly, the short stories were too short!! haha. And, really it was almost like they were trying too hard to be quirky or something. I just really thoroughly did not enjoy reading this. The only reason I did was b/c my Italian mother-in-law gave it to me as a joke for Christmas, as the new solo Irish girl in the family. Here was the rub -- it's about Asians, not Irishme ...more
Katie M.
Oct 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
Love me some Gish Jen. Her writing is compassionate, whip-smart, and always a delight to read. I didn't actually find most of these stories to be nearly as good as her novels, and there are definitely several duds in this collection ("Duncan in China" in particular is kind of a snoozer) but still definitely worth a read.
Laura K
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
It takes a lot of talent to weave stories involving the same characters through a series of books and short stories. Gish Jen is a master at this. I read the more recent books first, and now find myself looking eagerly for the appearance of a familiar character in the earlier short stories.
Ira Sukrungruang
Aug 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
That first story is simply a knock out.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't realize when I picked this book up that it was short stories. Not my favorite read. As I always end up caring about the characters and then they are gone. Same is true here. The first story about the mother/grandmother was funny. Jen's prose took me right there and I could picture the scene and was giggling at the mother's thoughts of her son-in-law's family during a Thanksgiving dinner. Priceless. The second story tore at my heartstrings of a broken man who was afraid of everything aft ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This collection of short stories about the experiences of being Chinese American is incredibly diverse and interesting. Each story has a unique point of view, and the spectrum of characters and voices is incredible. Thought provoking and easy to read.
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Gish Jen grew up in New York, where she spoke more Yiddish than Chinese. She has been featured in a PBS American Masters program on the American novel. Her distinctions also include a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Fulbright fellowship, and a Radcliffe Institute fellowship. She was awarded a Lannan Literary Prize in 1999 and received a Harold and Mildred Str ...more
More about Gish Jen...
“Plain boiled food, plain boiled thinking. Even his name is plain boiled: John. Maybe because I grew up with black bean sauce and hoisin sauce and garlic sauce, I always feel something is missing when my son-in-law talk.” 2 likes
“He would not want to sound like a haunted man; he would not want to sound as though he was calling from a welfare hotel, years too late, to say Yes, that was a baby we had together, it would have been a baby. For he could not help now but recall the doctor explaining about that child, a boy, who had appeared so mysteriously perfect in the ultrasound. Transparent, he had looked, and gelatinous, all soft head and quick heart; but he would have, in being born, broken every bone in his body.” 1 likes
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