Thursday, March 9th at 7:00 p.m.
In her fascinating and richly researched non-fiction treatise The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap, acclaimed novelist Gish Jen mines East/West cultural differences for the insights they afford into self-perception and contrasts individualism with interdependence as a central clue to what makes our contemporary society tick. Delve with Gish Jen into how you may be akin to an avocado, formed around an inner self, or, conversely, more shaped by your role in the outer, bigger order of things. We are honored to host Gish Jen as she explores her timely discoveries about age old dualities in this talk, reading and signing.
Is our mantra “To thine own self be true”? Or do we believe we belong to something larger than ourselves–a family, a religion, a troop–that claims our first allegiance? The Girl at the Baggage Claim is a provocative study of the different ideas Easterners and Westerners have about the self and society and what this means for current debates in art, education, geopolitics, and business. Gish Jen–drawing on a treasure trove of stories and personal anecdotes, as well as cutting-edge research in cultural psychology–reveals how this difference shapes what we perceive and remember, what we say and do and make–how it shapes everything from our ideas about copying and talking in class to the difference between Apple and Alibaba. And while focused on East West differences, Jen notes regional, economic and generational differences within the U.S.; Southerners and working class Americans, for example, still tilt toward interdependence. As engaging as it is illuminating, this is a book that stands to profoundly enrich our understanding of ourselves and of our world.
“A fascinating, brilliant book that gripped me from page one. Subtle, erudite, and daring… a tour de force by one of the most insightful writers of our time.”
—Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
“I loved the book! A deep psychological examination of how place, habits, and identity mix in our world. Tremendous!” —Yo-Yo Ma
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 Letters. She lives with her husband and two children in Cambridge, Massachusetts.