Cover Image: Thank You, Mr. Nixon

Thank You, Mr. Nixon

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Member Reviews

I requested Thank you, Mr Nixon as background for a featured review we ran on BookBrowse.
I thought it an excellent collection, and so did our reviewer. 

Links to review and article were sent to Gabrielle Brooks at the time.

Beyond the Book:
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a wonderful short story collection - and this is coming from someone who doesn't love the genre. Gish Jen is a wonderful writer!
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I was attracted to this book both by the author and the title. The title because if you're my age, it means something. And the author because I generally try to read all of her books and always enjoy them. This book was no exception. It's short stories, but as you read, you realize that it is really almost a novel as they casually, but carefully intertwine. And each story is interesting leading to an accumulation of knowledge on the experience of the Chinese and Chinese Americans in different places and situations. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in China and the Chinese people. It rings very true and will leave you with a deeper understanding of both the people and the culture.
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This collection of short stories spans the thawing of relations between China and the US beginning with Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 through the present day global Covid-19 pandemic which began in China and impacted the US and the rest of the world. Throughout these four decades, Jen deftly weaves together the characters, their stories, and important political and historical events with a humorous touch despite the often dramatic consequences of their actions and the calamitous impact of these events. A timely book to review what it means to be Chinese and American a half century after Nixon’s ground-breaking trip.
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These utterly imaginative, inventive stories by Gish Jen have put a smile on my face for weeks. By turn hilarious, evocative, heart rending and poignantly true, I could not put this book down. Brava.
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I loved these interlinked stories for their humor, their humanity, and their insight into life in China and the lives of Chinese Americans. Starting from the first story, Thank You, Mr. Nixon, recalling the president’s China visit–and Pat Nixon’s red coat–the author takes us into the China behind the ‘Potemkin’ façade projected to the West. Gish Jen creates conflicted and real families and characters who take us into recognizable, and foreign, situations.

But the bamboo curtain had parted. Not all that wide, really, but wide enough for tour buses to get through. from Thank You, Mr. Nixon by Gish Jen

The humorous tone is tempered by references to past trauma. “I remember when the Japanese came,” an old man tells his caretaker with Chinese grandparents, “The Japanese came and boom! Bombs. I once saw a girl blown up.”

Characters struggle for a green card, are pressured to fulfill parental dreams but flounder, look for purpose. They go to China seeking their roots and beauty and discover spies and people clamoring for sponsorship. They cope with Covid craziness. They learn the hazards of doing business with China. And, they learn by returning that they can’t go home again.

II highly recommend these stories.

I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.
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Gish Jen’s latest stories are as well-written, funny, and heart wrenching as always. The fact that many of the stories had overlapping characters was a fun touch, but most of the stories stood strongly enough on their own. I’m a big fan of Gish Jen’s and I can’t wait for her next book!
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Gish Jen’s collection opens with the titular story “Thank you, Mr. Nixon”, Tricia Sang’s letter to the president, and it ends with “Detective Dog” set during the coronavirus pandemic. In between, Gish Jen takes readers on a journey through U.S./China relations through an interlinked cast of characters and their personal stories. These poignant, vignettes evoke humor, drama, and culture. Thank you, Mr. Nixon is a must-read.
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Thanks to Netgalley and Knopf for the ebook. This book of loosely related short stories starts with the opening of China, when Americans started to tour its landmarks and goes all the way through to wealthy Chinese looking for a better life with their families in America. Characters and families slip in out of this eleven stories that are packed with so much warmth and humor.
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A terrific collection of interlocking stories.   This starts with a young woman talking to President Nixon telling him how his visit to China changed her life in ways big and small and then moves to explore the experiences of Chinese Americans in both China and the US.  She's got a sharp eye and an uncanny ear for dialogue.  Much of this is pointed but it's also poignant.  A character you meet in one story will reappear in another, either in the forefront or in the background- making the stories linked but not really dependent on one another. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.   I read this as I read all collections, one at a time over a period of days and enjoyed it tremendously.
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The introduction of the stories details the historic visit from President Nixon in 1972, beginning the reformation of the U.S.- China relations, and the collection ends in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each story is delicately woven together through familiar characters of previous stories, creating a compelling narrative that chronicles time through the lives of and unique relationships between these characters. 

This collection is inherently political and describes the complexity of conflicting government ideologies, immigration, and cultural assimilation. Through this collection I was introduced to many historic events, concepts and perspectives, which I found to be an enriching experience overall. I thought the author was successful in creating depth in her characters in such a short amount of time, and was able to generate intrigue even in the confines of simple premises and slice of life stories. 

Stand out stories were:
“It’s the Great Wall”
“Duncan in China”
“Rothko, Rothko”

I recommend this read to those interested in complex interpersonal connections and how major political events shape perspectives for generations. 

Similarly if you enjoyed the short story collection “Land of Big Numbers” by Te-Ping Chen, you will likely also enjoy this

Also reviewed on Goodreads :
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I love Gish Jen's novels and was excited to read this book of short stories. It does not disappoint! I loved how they lightly connected and really gave a peek into Chinese lives post Nixon's visit I don't normally see.
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