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World and Townby Gish Jen
Synopses & Reviews
From the much-loved author of Who’s Irish? and The Love Wife, a world-sized novel set in a small New England town.
Hattie Kong—the spirited offspring of a descendant of Confucius and an American missionary to China—has, in her fiftieth year of living in the United States, lost both her husband and her best friend to cancer. It is an utterly devastating loss, of course, and also heartbreakingly absurd: a little, she thinks, “like having twins. She got to book the same church with the same pianist for both funerals and did think she should have gotten some sort of twofer from the crematorium.”
But now, two years later, it is time for Hattie to start over. She moves to the town of Riverlake, where she is soon joined by an immigrant Cambodian family on the run from their inner-city troubles, as well as—quite unexpectedly—by a just-retired neuroscientist ex-lover named Carter Hatch. All of them are, like Hattie, looking for a new start in a town that might once have represented the rock-solid base of American life but that is itself challenged, in 2001, by cell-phone towers and chain stores, struggling family farms and fundamentalist Christians.
What Hattie makes of this situation is at the center of a novel that asks deep and absorbing questions about religion, home, America, what neighbors are, what love is, and, in the largest sense, what “worlds” we make of the world.
Moving, humorous, compassionate, and expansive, World and Town is as rich in character as it is brilliantly evocative of its time and place. This is a truly masterful novel—enthralling, essential, and satisfying.
Two years after burying her husband and best friend, 68-year-old Hattie Kong moves to a small New England town where she is joined by a Cambodian family and reunited with an ex-lover before tackling challenges in the form of fundamentalist Christians and struggling family farms. By the award-winning author of The Love Wife. 40,000 first printing.
Sixty-eight-year-old Hattie Kong, descendant of Confucius, daughter of an American missionary, has lived to see both her husband and her best friend die back-to-back, in a single year: It was like having twins . . . She got to book the same church with the same pianist for both funerals and did think she should have gotten some sort of twofer from the crematorium.
But two years later, it's time for Hattie to start over. She moves to a small New England town, where she is soon joined by a Cambodian American family and an ex-lover--now a retired neuroscientist--all of them looking for their own new lives. What Hattie makes of this situation and of the changing town of Riverlake--challenged as it is, in 2001, by fundamentalist Christians, struggling family farms, and unexpected immigrants--lies at the center of a novel that asks deep and absorbing questions about religion, home, and what worlds we make of the world.
Moving, humorous, and broad-ranging, World and Town is rich in character and brilliantly evocative of its time and place. This is a masterful novel from one of our most admired writers.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Gish Jen is the author of three previous novels and a book of stories. Her honors include the Lannan Literary Award for fiction and the Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She lives with her husband and two children in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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