his is a cracker collection of astutely funny stories by Chinese-American writer Gish Jen. In the title story, Jen gets into the opinionated head of a 68-year- old Chinese-American who strives to save her 3-year-old granddaughter, Sophie from being taken over by her wild Irish side. "My daughter tell me I should not say Irish this, Irish that", but she can't understand why none of the four sons in her son-in-law's family work. "I am work hard my whole life, and fierce besides." Resenting words like "supportive" and "creative" which aren't used in China, the gran's disciplining methods are met with shocked disapproval. Wryly observant of the nuances of cultural difference, Jen's tone is never didactic, but always excellently balanced. In "Birthmates", a 49-year- old divorced man checks into a welfare hotel by mistake and meets his own vulnerability head on in an excruciatingly moving tale of loss and alienation. Again Jen is highly attuned to the cruelties of racism and envy, to systems of care and people who fail to care enough. In "Duncan in China", Duncan travels to Shandong seeking heritage and instead blunders through a society he is not equipped to read. Unable to be either noble or holy, the only thing that moves him are remembered sex scenes from Western cinema. Jen lances stereotypes with a polished wit and occasional forlorn tragedy. Her language is taut and embedded with slang and idiomatic peculiarities that make the voices entirely believable and often hilarious. --Cherry Smyth
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Used availability for Gish Jen's Who's Irish?
June 2008 : USA Library Binding
May 1999 : USA Hardback
June 2000 : USA Paperback
June 1999 : UK Paperback
September 2017 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition
August 2012 : USA, Canada Kindle edition