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Jenny Zhang Books In Order

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Publication Order of Collections

Dear Jenny, We Are All Find (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Selected Jenny Zhang (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sour Heart (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
My Baby First Birthday (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women (With: Carmen Maria Machado,Jane Smiley,Kate Bolick) (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Iowa Review: Volume 41, Number 2(2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
PEN America Issue 21: Mythologies(2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Jenny Zhang (who is also known as Jenny Bagel) was born in Shanghai, China in the year 1983. While only five years old, she came to New York City so that she could join her dad. At the time, he was at New York University and studied linguistics. Her mother was also in America, who immigrated to the states after the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

When she first came here, she had no way to respond to anyone that spoke to her, and it made writing a safe haven for her. It was somewhere she could go and not have an accent.

Her dad pulled himself out of the PhD program he was in, and started working as a teacher. He would later enroll in school to study computer programming, and later the family would move on to Long Island. It was here that her dad ran a computer repair business. He also taught himself how to speak English, as he simply had no one else to teach him.

She is a prolific essayist, poet, and writer who is based in the city of Brooklyn, New York. She has a BA from Stanford in Comparative Studies in Ethnicity and Race. She also has a Master of Fine Arts in the field of fiction, that she got from Iowa Writers’ Workshop. While at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop she got a Teaching-Writing Fellowship and a Provost Fellowship.

While in graduate school, at Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she taught undergraduate students creative writing at University of Iowa. She also instructed students at the high school level in the Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens.

After she finished college, she moved on to San Francisco and worked as a union organizer for Chinese people that worked in home health care. She also worked as organizer for 826 Valencia, a writing non-profit that helps both kids and young adults learn . She also taught English during a summer she spent in Hungary.

From the years 2011 until 2014, she wrote quite a lot of things for a publication called Rookie. The work she wrote for Rookie gained her a cult following and was able to get her work out there. She has also written essays for other publications in a freelance capacity.

An essay she wrote called “How It Feels” got nominated for a National Magazine Award.

One thing she focuses on in her work is the identity of the Chinese American immigrant and their experience while in America. She has also written essays about her love for M. I. A. (who is a rapper) and about women (after she watched a filibuster for a bill that would limit access to abortion services).

In the year 2014, she was asked by Lena Dunham to join her promotional tour she was on for a book she had released. It led to Dunham publishing “Sour Heart” in the year 2017.

Lena was a fan of her work and knew of it through her time writing for Rookie. Lena described her work as if Salvador Dali and Judy Blume took on living in America as an immigrant. She had read her work, and tweeted Jenny to tell her that she enjoyed the poetry Jenny had written.

She would write stories with Chinese Americans as main characters, and get told that she should stories that were more universal. She did not like this, as she says that anything can happen to a girl that is Chinese American. Which is the same as can happen to white men and women, who are the main characters in much of English literature. It gave her a test, to prove that any kind of story is possible with her kind of characters.

Jenny feels like she is just Chinese, but realizes that others have thought she was Japanese, or Korean, or simply Asian. Sometimes, it makes her self conscious, sometimes resentful, and at times, even angry about it.

“Dear Jenny, We Are All Find” is the first book and was released in the year 2012. She wrote most of the poems while at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in secret as the poetry program was kept secret from the fiction program. The other poems were written while she was dwelling in the south of France. Jenny wonders if she can be her own dream. The answer is always yes as well as always no. Zhang, with much energy and brilliance, is able to forage through global, familial, and anatomical configurations conceitedly showing an identity which comes out just to shift and move on in a restless manner.

This is a book that is something to be savored and is something of a miracle. Fans of the book found that Zhang writes like a 21 st century Whitman that is Chinese, female, not to mention largely scatological. Readers feel that this was mind blowing and they have not ever read anything like this book before. Readers found that this pushes the boundaries of what is possible in a book of poetry.

“Sour Heart” is the second book and was released in the year 2017. One of the stories in the collection was written when Zhang was only nineteen years old. This collection of stories shows how family and history can lift us up and hold us back. It is centered around a community of immigrants that left their endangered lives as artists in both Taiwan and China to always struggle at the poverty line in New York City during the nineties.

There is a young woman that has to come to terms with the role her grandmother played in the Cultural Revolution. Then the daughter that struggles to comprehend where she starts and her family actually ends. Another girl finds the power her body has to destroy and inspire people. The seven stories show the messy and complicated inner lives girls have as they struggle to figure themselves out and define them.

Here is a writer that some readers want to read everything she writes, as she does so like no other. Fans of the book found the writing to be quite marvelous and that Jenny does a great job of telling a story. The book is not for everyone, but some readers feel that they could read anything that Zhang wrote, even if it was just some stream of consciousness stuff from her. Readers will certainly learn something after finishing this interesting read.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Jenny Zhang

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