Tiger Writing by Gish Jen
Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self

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For author Gish Jen, the daughter of Chinese immigrant parents, books were once an Outsiders’ Guide to the Universe. But they were something more, too. Through her eclectic childhood reading, Jen stumbled onto a cultural phenomenon that would fuel her writing for decades to come: the profound difference in self-narration that underlies the gap often perceived between East and West.

Drawing on a rich array of sources, from paintings to behavioral studies to her father’s striking account of his childhood in China, this accessible book not only illuminates Jen’s own development and celebrated work but also explores the aesthetic and psychic roots of the independent and interdependent self—each mode of selfhood yielding a distinct way of observing, remembering, and narrating the world. The novel, Jen writes, is fundamentally a Western form that values originality, authenticity, and the truth of individual experience. By contrast, Eastern narrative emphasizes morality, cultural continuity, the everyday, the recurrent. In its progress from a moving evocation of one writer’s life to a convincing delineation of the forces that have shaped our experience for millennia, Tiger Writing radically shifts the way we understand ourselves and our art-making.

About Gish Jen

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Published March 21, 2013 115 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Tiger Writing

The Boston Globe

Citing studies involving images of a static figure against changing settings, or changing figures in a static setting, Jen points out that “Asians tend to focus on the context, and Westerners, on the figure.” Similarly, while Western art and literature are acutely interested in the individual, t...

Mar 28 2013 | Read Full Review of Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, ...

Arts Fuse

Moving restlessly between independence and interdependence in style and content, the lecture captures the changeling quality that Gish Jen associates with those who must creatively manage multiple cultural influences.

Apr 17 2013 | Read Full Review of Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, ...

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