Cover: Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self, from Harvard University PressCover: Tiger Writing in HARDCOVER

The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in American Studies 2012

Tiger Writing

Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self

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Product Details


$18.95 • £15.95 • €17.00

ISBN 9780674072831

Publication Date: 03/25/2013


224 pages

4-3/8 x 7-1/8 inches

22 halftones

The William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in American Studies


Probing, precise, and extremely thought-provoking, this is a small volume about big ideas.—Kate Tuttle, The Boston Globe

Tiger Writing is a remarkable achievement on account of its sobriety and unique perception of difference between what Gish Jen considers as the West and Asian narratives… Her sensitivity to her own roots and the transparency with which she focuses on these textures is what makes Tiger Writing remarkably interesting… Gish Jen’s translucency as a novelist with an astute critical sense is that which leads us through the pages of this extremely interesting narrative. Tiger Writing is thus at once a text of critical exploration and a manifesto.—Murali Sivaramakrishnan, The Hindu

Gish Jen’s elegant and wide-ranging Tiger Writing…explores the differences between Eastern and Western ideas of the self in fiction and culture, and why they matter… Tiger Writing is physically beautiful—printed on ivory paper with photos throughout, intimate in the hand and a pleasure to touch and hold. It seems fitting that a book about writing, connection and culture provides such a full sensory experience. It is a perfect metaphor for its contents.—Jeanette Zwart, Shelf Awareness (starred review)

Jen weaves together examples of the interdependent views that influenced her and how she came to be a novelist—an independent thing. She addresses the notion of culture with a small c and a capital C. In addition, she discusses the blurring of inter/independence in negotiating narrative and life. The notes following the lectures are well worth reading for their nuggets of information.—M.L. Jackson, Choice

These pieces are as entertaining as they are insightful. Jen’s readers will undoubtedly love them, and those new to her work should consider them as well.—Mark Manivong, Library Journal

[A] thoughtful—and often witty—volume… Jen raises important questions about how we fashion our own stories and how cultural differences influence that process.Publishers Weekly

Gish Jen is the Great American Novelist we’re always hearing about, and in Tiger Writing she delivers a profound meditation on the divergent roles that storytelling, artmaking, and selfhood take on across the East–West divide. Penetrating, inspired, and, yes, indispensable.—Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

In a magnificent feat of integration, Tiger Writing honors the becoming of the Chinese American writer. I am proud, proud, proud to share ancestors—and the novel and the world—with Gish Jen. Oh, and the wonderful faith—that the novel can be learned!—Maxine Hong Kingston, author of To Be the Poet

Tiger Writing is both precise and intimate, a terrific contribution to our understanding of the artist’s lot in the East and in the West.—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

How to balance the competing claims of social order and self-determination? It’s a question that all novelists must grapple with, and Jen, drawing on extensive research in the social sciences as well as her own vividly-rendered biography, gives us an entirely new answer. The result is a strikingly original—and compellingly personal—account of the novel as a genre.—Amanda Claybaugh, Harvard University

Blending family memoir, cultural criticism, and reflections on her own life as a writer, Gish Jen makes a compelling case for the novel as a meeting-ground of typically American themes of independence with classically Asian ideals of interdependence. Tiger Writing is a rare case of a book on writing that itself is a joy to read.—David Damrosch, author of What Is World Literature?

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