Mona in the Promised Land

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Vintage, 1997 - Fiction - 303 pages
44 Reviews
In this ebullient and inventive novel, Gish Jen restores multiculturalism from high concept to a fact of life. At least that's what it becomes for teenaged Mona Chang, who in 1968 moves with her newly prosperous family to Scarshill, New York, where the Chinese have become "the new Jews." What could be more natural than for Mona to take this literally--even to the point of converting? As Mona attends temple "rap" sessions and falls in love (with a nice Jewish boy who lives in a tepee), Jen introduces us to one of the most charming and sweet-spirited heroines in recent fiction, a girl who can wisecrack with perfect aplomb even when she's organizing the help in her father's pancake house. On every page of Mona in the Promised Land, Gish Jen sets our received notions spinning with a wit as dry as a latter-day Jane Austen's.

"A shining example of a multicultural message delivered with the wit and bite of art...Gish Jen creates a particular world where dim sum is as American as apple pie."--Los Angeles Times

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Gish Jen was suppose to be the next Amy Tan - not quite. This book is boring, tiresome beyond words (I mean who cares about the rants/feelings of some teen-age girl?). I'm Jewish and thought the book was childish and an embarrassment all the way around - how did it get published is what I want to know. The people are shallow, her conversion is a joke, and the fact that the author has only some hazy ideas about Jews and Judaism makes me wonder how much she knows about Chinese anything. As the American born husband of a Hispanicfriend says when asked if he knows Spanish, "grand taco." 

Review: Mona in the Promised Land

User Review  - Andriana Xenophontos - Goodreads

I absolutely loved this book. Mona is so charming and witty yet she tackles such significant and powerful issues of racial fluidity an identity. All of the characters appear genuinely good and many ... Read full review


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About the author (1997)

Gish Jen is a writer living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the author of four novels, including Typical American and Mona in the Promised Land. Her most recent novel is World and Town.

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