There is humor here, some of it pointed ... The stories are linked ingeniously, with minor subplots returning to major effect as the book moves forward through time, and people who seemed marginal on one page appearing later to take center stage ... A later set of protests, those in Hong Kong, become the setting of one of the book’s most heartbreaking arcs, a kind of authorial tour-de-force as we mostly understand it through hints and suggestions, culminating in the breathtaking final story, 'Detective Dog' ... Jen, whose previous fiction has often plied the territory of second-generation American children of Chinese immigrants, here creates a panoramic universe of deftly sketched tales both comic and tragic. Her prose sparkles with clarity and moves with deceptive simplicity toward profound conclusions. This is a collection to treasure.
There are 11 [stories] here – insightful, wistful, nuanced – sometimes heartbreaking and often funny. Each tale packs in social commentary, political asides, and keen observations that lodge the characters in time and place like thumbtacks on a map. Even more satisfying, these very different women, men, and children get more than a moment in the sun ... Jen’s stories prove engrossing thanks to her polished prose and multifaceted characters. Equally riveting is the fearless way she dives into fraught, ripped-from-the headlines topics ... In this collection, Jen stares down history with a discerning eye, cracking wit and well-tuned words.
... a jewel box of creativity and a joy to uncover. Across 11 synergistic stories about interconnected families, Jen creates a sort of episodic epic spanning 50 years, from Nixon's historic visit to China in 1972 through the umbrella protests in Hong Kong early in the pandemic ... Jen subtly draws attention to all these perceptions of difference, those based on race as well as on age, values, class and immigration status ... These stories offer valuable insight into our world, which feels increasingly divided in countless ways. Surely everyone—us and them, whoever they are—would benefit if together we read what Jen has to say.
She’s wonderfully weird and imaginative ... The title story of her new collection, Thank You, Mr. Nixon, is a tour de force of ironic fantasy that recalls the former President’s 1972 visit to China, not for its political significance but for Pat Nixon’s red coat ... It’s rare that a writer’s skill and depth are matched by her wit ... Intergenerational connection — or the lack of it — is certainly at the core of many stories in this book. Although some are shorter, slighter and more satirical, Jen never plays it just for laughs (or tears, for that matter) ... let me say again how enjoyable, intricate and impossible to categorize these stories are, mixing humor with melancholy, sarcasm with sweetness, rapture with grief.
... 11 gorgeously comedic and heartbreaking stories cleverly linked through family and friends ... the connections Jen finesses among her entrancing characters are surprising and piquing, her painterly descriptions compassionate and amusing, her summoning of ambiguity and hard truths uniquely illuminating.
This stunning new linked short story collection offers a fresh take on the experience of immigration and exile ... Some of the stories about the Koos...are hilarious. Others...are heartbreaking ... Jen’s crisp prose, wonderful eye for detail, and wry humor make them a joy to read, and there is wisdom here, too—we’re all exiles from something. Living between cultures might mean never being at home—or finding home in the space between.