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Luck Dispensers

Penelope Fitzgerald

11 July 1991
The Kitchen God’s Wife 
by Amy Tan.
HarperCollins, 415 pp., £14.99, June 1991, 0 00 223708 3
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... Amy Tan was born in San Francisco soon after her parents emigrated from Communist China. A few years ago she joined a Writers’ Circle, which told her, as Writers’ Circles always do, to write what she had seen herself. She wrote about what she had seen herself and what she hadn’t – her own experience and her mother’s ...

Blair-Speak

Gabriele Annan: Gish Jen’s Jokes

6 January 2000
Who's Irish 
by Gish Jen.
Granta, 209 pp., £9.99, July 1999, 1 86207 276 0
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... American appeared in 1991, the Chinese American writer Gish Jen has been acclaimed as the new Amy Tan. Amy Tan herself acclaims her on the cover of Mona in the Promised Land (1996), Jen’s second novel; and again on this collection of short stories. Jen has a lot going for her: she is ...

Some Kind of Remedy

Gabriele Annan: Jhumpa Lahiri

20 July 2000
Interpreter of Maladies 
by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Flamingo, 198 pp., £6.99, June 2000, 0 00 655179 3
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... 2000 for fiction, the New Yorker for best first book and the PEN/Hemingway award. Praise from Amy Tan is quoted on the cover, as it was on the cover of Gish Jen’s Who’s lrish? Tan and Jen both write about first and second-generation Chinese Americans, and are upbeat on the whole, sometimes relentlessly so. With ...

Errant Pinkies

Robert Macfarlane

1 June 2000
Waiting 
by Ha Jin.
Heinemann, 308 pp., £10, May 2000, 0 434 00914 8
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... Mandeville, that great early impresario of the exotic. It has appealed at a general level as a substantial, unknown space into which, with the right promptings, the individual imagination could rush, expand, unfurl and luxuriate. More specifically, it has incited in Western audiences the mixture of fear and fascination which sells books. In 1822, Thomas De ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self

5 February 2004
Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... fiction about a writer who is writing the fiction we are reading, Wolff would have us understand, is obscene. A writer reaching out from behind the curtain of the page to wave at the crowd undermines the enterprise: the rich illusion of reality is ruined. The writers whom Wolff esteems most – among them Kafka, Hemingway and Chekhov – share ‘the ...

Good enough for Jesus

Charlotte Brewer

25 January 1990
The State of the Language: 1990 Edition 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels.
Faber, 531 pp., £17.50, January 1990, 9780571141821
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Clichés and Coinages 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 305 pp., £17.50, October 1989, 0 631 15691 7
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Rhetoric: The Wit of Persuasion 
by Walter Nash.
Blackwell, 241 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 631 16754 4
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... Greenbaum and Randolph Quirk) jostle with poets and novelists (including Medbh McGuckian and Amy Tan). David Dabydeen writes ‘On Not Being Milton: Nigger Talk in England Today’, and discusses, in impeccably establishment English, a question that might just as well come under ‘Art’: how does a black writer in English find an authentic ...

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