The Girl At the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap
The Girl At the Baggage Claim is a provocative and important study of the different ideas Easterners and Westerners have about the self and society and what this means for current debates in art, education, geopolitics, and business. Based on her 2012 Harvard Massey Lectures in American History, Gish Jen’s book explores two opposing perceptions of self: the Western “individualistic self” and the Eastern “flexi-self” and how these selves interact in today’s globalized world. Drawing on a treasure trove of personal stories and personal anecdotes as well as cutting-edge research in cultural psychology, Jen reveals how this cultural difference in perception of self influences what we say and do and make. Her storytelling skills and sense of humor take us from the classroom to the boardroom, the newsroom to the living room, shedding light on the East-West cultural divide playing out all around us.
Gish Jen is the author of four novels, a book of stories, and a previous book of nonfiction, Tiger Writing. Her honors include the Lannan Literary Award for fiction and the Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She teaches from time to time in China and otherwise lives with her husband and two children in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Pick up other books by first and second-generation American authors to see how they explore identity, sense of self, and American culture. Try Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words (2016), Nella Larsen’s Quicksand (1928), or Chaim Potok’s The Book of Lights (1981).
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