Next Up: World and Town

World and TownIt’s that time again. I’ve finished Split and I have to pick my next book on the list. Using my completely unscientific selection process, I’ve landed on “a Gish Jen book” and more specifically decided on World and Town.

Gish Jen’s website describes the book as such:

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, 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.

I’m certainly keeping things varied, eh?

And full disclosure: I will be reading at least one non-list book before I get to World and Town. This non-list book may or may not be a certain popular young adult novel that happens to be part of a trilogy. Maybe. More on that later!

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