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After reading typical american, i will definitely read more in telling the story of ralph chang's journey from his youth in china through his emigration to the us, jin tells a sort of every-immigrant story.
Jen’s first novel, typical american, follows ralph (born yfeng) chang from his boyhood in china to a turbulent but ultimately successful adjustment to life in the united states in the decades. Lai fu chang comes to the us in 1947 to study for his phd in electrical engineering, changes his name to ralph in the same impulsive, muddled way he does everything else, neglects to renew his visa and has become a penniless recluse when he is discovered by his older sister, called theresa in her convent school, and her friend helen, who have been sent to america to escape the communists. Typical american gish jen reinvents the american immigrant story through the chang family, who come to the united states with no intention of staying when the communists assume control of china in 1949, though, ralph chang, his sister theresa, and his wife helen, find themselves in a crisis. In the novel typical american written by gish jen, the protagonist, ralph chang, makes a mistake in which he shifts and tortures his original american dream to a false and ‘poisonous’ dream that causes his ultimate familial, moral and financial collapse in other words, he fails to create a ‘china’ with traditional values in america.
Typical american by gish jen 296 pp boston: seymour lawrence/houghton mifflin company $1995 migration and mutation form a persistent, characterizing theme of our unsettling time in her first novel, typical american, which explores the transformation of chinese immigrants in the united states, gish jen has engaged this theme with distinction. Ralph assimilates to the materialism of ‘typical americans’ gradually and discards the traditional chinese values, in which he misinterprets the significance of american dream and causes his collapses.