Town Hall Seattle Civics Series
58min2022 MAY 26
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In 1972, Richard Nixon made a historic visit to China. The trip broke 25 years of silence between the U.S. and China, paving the way for the establishment of full diplomatic relations later in the decade. Around the same time, second-generation Chinese American Gish Jen started writing; she first visited China with her family in 1979, the experience undoubtedly shaping her identity as both a Chinese American and a writer. Jen’s latest book,Thank You, Mr. Nixon, collected 11 stories spanning 50 years since Nixon’s landmark visit and meeting with Chairman Mao. Beginning with a cheery letter penned by a Chinese girl in heaven to “poor Mr. Nixon” in hell, Jen embarked on a witty (and at times heartbreaking) journey through U.S.-China relations, capturing the excitement of a world on the brink of change. The stories paint vignettes of the lives of ordinary people after China’s reopening: a reunion of Chinese sisters after forty years; a cosmopolitan’s musings on why Americans “lik...

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