Gish Jen's Typical American surveys a broad range of immigrant Chinese American experience, and is populated by round, psychologically complex characters interacting in believable and striking ways. Jen's flaw as an author might only be a flaw of the Chinese American community itself, a tendency to presume "too much democracy" and too much equality in a country that has a bit more complex melding of Western tradition, class division and attachment to its roots than appears at first sight. Various friends of various world backgrounds have commented that Chinese Americans while neither racist, overly educated, not criminal nor intellectual, not too aggressive nor far passive, seem to assume that everyone in America has jumped off a boat into New York Harbor and built up their lives from absolute zero beginnings. I had the opportunity to go see the author speak at a public reading, but what's the point when in nobody in my family in three generations has majored in either economics or pre-med?
I'm not sure my impressions of the supposed "model minority" are universally positive. there are good things about Chinese culture, the traditional medicine, the knowledge of herbs and spiritual balance, but what of the negative features of the Chinatowns, the crowding, the lack of hygiene, the materialism?