Gish Jen: Exploring cultural barriers through writing

Full Frame

Gish Jen Chinese-American author Gish Jen explores the impact culture can make on the art of writing.

Originally a novelist, Gish Jen delved into non-fiction writing after reading her father’s memoir on life in China.

Jen was struck by the fact that her father focused more on his environment than his individual self. This revelation inspired her to write her first nonfiction book: Tiger Writing: Art, Culture and the Interdependent Self. It’s a book that looks at the interdependent culture her Chinese upbringing encouraged versus the independent culture many Western cultures value.

“I do think that individualism is wonderful for many things, but it can be isolating. It’s not about relating to others,” Jen explained. “I think there’s a way in which interdependence helps you kind of dissolve the boundaries between you and others in a–in a really healthy and helpful way.”

Gish Jen: Exploring cultural barriers through writing

Gish Jen: Exploring cultural barriers through writing

Chinese-American author Gish Jen explores the impact culture can make on the art of writing.

Jen is now working on another book that’s breaking barriers while taking an in-depth look at the concept of interdependence across cultures.

Full Frame visited Gish Jen in Boston, where she helps us understand the impact of interdependence on art and culture.